When an emergency occurs, it is important to act fast!

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 131 million emergency room visits occur every year. Our ED Care Team at the UAB Medical West Emergency Department is here to assist you when undergoing a medical emergency and to provide you with the best care possible to get you feeling better.

Do I need to visit an emergency room for every medical need?


While the number of emergency room visits each year is high, the truth is around 71-percent of the visits could have been handled in an urgent care setting.

Therefore, for both you and the ED Care Team, it is important to learn the difference between needing emergency care and urgent care in order to get the best treatment possible as soon as possible!

Urgent care vs. emergency care


When a medical issue arises, the first thing you might want to do is head to the emergency room. However, an emergency room is going to take patients not as a first come first serve, but as how severe the person’s medical condition is.


Therefore, it is both a benefit to you and others to learn how to decide whether or not your medical needs calls for an urgent care center or an emergency room.


You need to go to an urgent care center if:


  • You have a minor fracture or broken bone
  • You are experiencing nausea or vomiting
  • You need stitches
  • You have allergies or feel like you are suffering from a cold or flu virus
  • You are experiencing eye irritation
  • You need an x-ray
  • You have a minor headache
  • You suffered an animal bite

However, you need to go to an emergency room if:

  • You have severe shortness of breath
  • You feel you have consumed poison
  • You have major life-threatening injuries, including severe wounds and amputations
  • You are experiencing the symptoms of a heart attack, such as chest pain
  • You are coughing and/or vomiting blood
  • You are having signs similar to that of a stroke like numbness in arms and/or legs
  • You are considering suicide

The basic thing you need to consider when deciding between visiting an emergency room or an urgent care center is if you have a life-threatening condition. If you do, then you need to visit an emergency room. If not, an urgent care center should be able to assist in your medical care.

We are here for you!


When you are in need of medical care, the UAB Medical West Emergency Department is fully-equipped to handle any medical emergency that comes our way!


Labeled as a Level 3 Trauma Center, our emergency room contains 17 beds and is able to provide quality medical care to all patients—from pediatric to geriatric. Our medical team in the emergency department is comprised of:


  • Physicians
  • Nurses
  • Pharmacists
  • Lab technicians
  • Patient care technicians
  • Unit clerks
  • X-ray technicians 

Even if you are unsure whether or not your health condition constitutes as an emergency, it is always best to be safe than sorry. Therefore, stop by our emergency department any time a medical issue arises.  

Do you have a medical emergency? The medical team at UAB Medical West in Bessemer, AL, is here to help.


Call our physician referral line at 205-996-WEST to schedule an appointment with a UAB Medical West provider. We are here to serve the communities of Hoover, Bessemer, McCalla, and Vance and more!