You're chopping broccoli and the knife slips and slices your finger. You think you need stitches but it's not bleeding too badly. Or you wake up in the middle of the night with severe stomach pain. It's important to know when a condition or injury can be handled by urgent care or warrants a trip to the emergency department.

Note: If you think you're experiencing a life-threatening or severe condition, call 911 or go directly to the nearest emergency department.

When to go to urgent care

If you have a minor illness or injury that can't wait until tomorrow, urgent care is the right choice. Symptoms may include, but are not limited to:

  • Bites
  • Coughs
  • Cuts
  • Dehydration
  • Diarrhea
  • Ear pain
  • Fever
  • Infections
  • Mild asthma
  • Minor burns
  • Nose bleeds
  • Rashes
  • Painful urination
  • Vomiting
  • Sore throat
  • Simple fractures
  • Sprains
  • Strains

Urgent care options

UCSF Adult Urgent Care (San Francisco)

UCSF Pediatric Urgent Care (San Francisco, Berkeley)

Go Health Urgent Care (San Francisco, Oakland, Mill Valley, Daly City, San Bruno, and Redwood City)

Golden Gate Urgent Care (San Francisco, Oakland, and Mill Valley)

Berkeley Outpatient Center (Berkeley)

Circle Medical (San Francisco)

One Medical (35 Bay Area locations)

When to go to the emergency room

Emergency departments are set up to treat life-threatening issues with access to advanced testing and imaging resources and an integrative team of providers across specialties including cardiology, neurology, orthopedics and, at UCSF, hundreds of other specialties.

Call 911 or go directly to the nearest emergency department if you think you're experiencing a life-threatening condition. Symptoms may include, but are not limited to:

  • 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
  • Head injury
  • Heart attack symptoms
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Major trauma
  • Open fractures
  • Severe or persistent vomiting or diarrhea
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Severe or uncontrolled bleeding
  • Stroke symptoms
  • Suicidal or homicidal feelings

Emergency care options

UCSF Adult Emergency Department (San Francisco)

UCSF Pediatric Emergency Department (San Francisco, Oakland) – also serves pregnant women