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Emergency care and urgent care

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We care about your health and helping you make wise care decisions. Understanding what kind of care you and your family members need is important.

If you think you or your family member has a medical or psychiatric emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest hospital. Do not attempt to access emergency care through this website.

If you or your family member has an urgent symptom or you want to speak with a nurse, do not use this website. Instead, please call the local Kaiser Permanente facility.

What is a medical or psychiatric emergency?

An emergency medical condition is a medical condition that manifests itself by acute symptoms of sufficient severity (including severe pain) such that a reasonable person could expect the absence of immediate medical attention to result in any of the following:

  • serious jeopardy to a person's health (or, with respect to a pregnant woman, the health of the woman or her unborn child)
  • serious impairment in bodily functions
  • serious dysfunction of any bodily organ or part

A mental health condition is an emergency medical condition when it meets the requirements of the paragraph above, or when the condition manifests itself by acute symptoms of sufficient severity such that either of the following is true:

  • The person is an immediate danger to himself or herself or to others
  • The person is immediately unable to provide for, or use, food, shelter, or clothing, due to the mental disorder

If you think you or your family member has a medical or psychiatric emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest hospital. Do not attempt to access emergency care through this website.

In California, a psychiatric condition is an emergency medical condition if it has acute symptoms that make a person an immediate danger to himself or others or not immediately able to provide for, or use, food, shelter, or clothing, due to the mental disorder.

Examples of symptoms that may be an emergency medical condition include the following:

  • chest pain or pressure which may radiate to the arms, neck, back, shoulder, jaw, arm, or wrist
  • sudden onset of severe abdominal pain
  • severe shortness of breath
  • sudden decrease in or loss of consciousness
  • sudden inability to talk or to move one side of the body, or sudden slurred speech
  • severe, persistent bleeding that cannot be stopped
  • major injuries such as gunshot or stab wounds or severe injuries from a vehicle accident
  • for pregnant women only: "active labor," which means a labor when there is inadequate time for a safe transfer to a Plan hospital (or designated hospital) before delivery or if a transfer poses a threat to the health of the woman or unborn child

If you think you or your family member has a medical emergency, call 911 immediately! Do not attempt to access emergency care through this website.

If you are not sure what type of care you need, please call your local Kaiser Permanente medical facility or advice nurse.

What is an urgent symptom?

An urgent care need is one that requires prompt medical attention, usually within 24 to 48 hours, but is not an emergency medical condition. Examples of urgent care situations include:

  • minor injuries
  • sore throats and upper respiratory symptoms
  • earaches
  • coughs
  • backaches
  • frequent urination or burning sensation when urinating

If you think you or your family member has an urgent symptom, please do not send a message to a nurse through this website. If you are not sure what type of care is needed, please call the local Kaiser Permanente medical facility or advice nurse.

What's the difference between urgent and nonurgent questions?

Urgent questions are for situations where you or your family member cannot wait for a response. These may include situations where there are new or worsening symptoms, allergic reactions, and concerns that cause you or your family member to stop taking medication or to delay starting a new medication.

The doctor's office is unable to provide medical advice or help with urgent situations through this website. If you or your family member need medical advice or are unsure whether the symptoms are urgent, please call the local Kaiser Permanente facility.