Healthy Times

Avoid the Emergency Room This Summer


You Have Quicker, More Affordable Options
Did you know that emergency rooms report 18 percent more traffic in May through August than any other times during the year? That's because, according to, more people are participating in outdoor activities during the summer months. So with emergency room visits on the rise, that could mean even longer wait times than usual.

If you want to save time and money this summer, and you're not experiencing a life-threatening medical issue—you have other options available. First check with your primary care physician's (PCP) office to find out your doctor's preferred emergency room alternatives. Your PCP may offer these alternatives directly or may collaborate with other providers, so that the care you receive outside of normal business hours is reflected on your medical history and allows for your doctor to coordinate ongoing care. When you do not have those options, use the table below.

Did you know that the average wait time for an ER visit is 4 hours or more?
If you have... Then... And it will cost...
Treatment questions, non life-threatening issues, or symptoms that are uncomfortable: Call your PCP's office, or go to the option your PCP recommends for urgent care, after-hours care, or weekend care $ A copayment (unless the problem can be treated over the phone)

Questions about where to go for treatment for:

Call the Blue Care LineSM
1-888-247-BLUE (2583)
Nothing (This is a toll-free call.)

Symptoms that are uncomfortable, but not urgent:

  • Flu
  • Earache
  • Pink eye
  • Sore throat
Go to a CVS MinuteClinic®' $ (About the same as the copay for a doctor's visit)

Non life-threatening issues like:

  • Sprains
  • Minor burns or cuts
  • Broken bones
Go to an urgent care center $$

Life-threatening issues or severe pain2 like:

  • Suspected heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Poisoning
  • Loss of consciousness
Go to the ER or call 911 $$$

Remember: If you go to a facility that is not on your PCP's preferred list, or to the emergency room, be sure to contact your PCP after the visit so that your record is updated.

To find a location, see our list of participating PDF CVS MinuteClinics or PDF urgent care centers.

1. 2010 Emergency Department Pulse Report: Patient Perspectives on American Health Care, Press Ganey, July 22, 2010.

2."Severe pain symptoms" are situations where the lack of prompt medical attention could place your life or health, or the health of another
(including an unborn child), in serious jeopardy.