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Acute Care or Emergency

Where should you go for medical care when you're ill or injured? How do you decide whether to go to the Screening and Acute Care Clinic or the Emergency Department at UCSF Medical Center?

If you think you're experiencing a life-threatening or severe condition, call 911 or go directly to the Emergency Department.

Emergency Department

The Emergency Department treats patients with conditions that need immediate attention, ranging from simple but pressing injuries such as a cut that needs stitches to a life-threatening head injury. Care is provided 24 hours a day.

Screening and Acute Care

The Screening and Acute Care Clinic is available for minor illnesses or injuries such as a cough, earache or sprained ankle. The clinic offers walk-in appointments for adults 18 and over. Patients can be evaluated for urgent, non-life threatening medical problems that need same-day evaluation.

Walk-in patients are seen on a first-come, first-serve basis. Appointments are scheduled until all time slots are filled. For patients who have a primary care doctor at UCSF Medical Center, a limited number of appointments are available for scheduling by phone and online via InQuicker.

Please check with your insurance company to determine if you need prior authorization to ensure coverage for the visit. If you don't have insurance, you'll be asked to pay an initial depost. Additional fees may be charged for tests and other services.

When to Call 911

Call 911 or go directly to the Emergency Department if you think you're experiencing a life-threatening condition or symptoms such as:

  • Any sudden or severe pain, or unusual abdominal pain
  • Changes in vision
  • Chest or upper abdominal pain or pressure lasting two minutes or more
  • Confusion or changes in mental status, unusual behavior, difficulty walking
  • Coughing or vomiting blood
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Fainting, sudden dizziness, weakness
  • Severe or persistent vomiting or diarrhea
  • Suicidal or homicidal feelings
  • Uncontrolled bleeding


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For help finding a doctor or for other assistance, contact our Physician Referral Service at (888) 689-UCSF or (888) 689-8273.

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