With the increase in urgent care facilities, it can be easier than ever for patients to access healthcare conveniently. With a number of facility choices, however, it can be challenging to know whether to visit the family physician, urgent care clinic or the emergency room at the hospital when illness or injury occurs. Here’s how to decide.
When to Call the Family Doctor
If an individual develops illness and injury that requires immediate care when his or her doctor is available, this should be the first line of treatment. Examples of minor illnesses, conditions, and injuries that can be treated by a primary care physician include:
-Treatment of minor allergic reactions and allergy attacks
-Colds, cough, ear infection, or flu
-Dizziness or dehydration
-Minor burns, cuts, lacerations, or bites
-Rash, skin condition, or pink eye
-Urinary tract infection
-Nausea or diarrhea
The family doctor should also be visited for regular checkups, wellness visits, and vaccinations.
When to Go to Urgent Care
Urgent care is the ideal resource to rely on for any of the conditions listed above when one is not able to see their regular doctor. Unlike most primary care offices, urgent care facilities often have night, weekend, and holiday hours. In other cases, a doctor may recommend an urgent care center if he or she has no available appointments for that day.
When to Go to the ER
The emergency room is best reserved for real emergencies. Medical conditions that require immediate attention should be seen at the ER, including:
-Persistent chest pain
-Accidental ingestion of foreign substance
-Serious head injury
-Suicidal thoughts or severely altered mental state
-Cuts that require stitches
-Sudden, severe headache
-Fever in an infant
Those who aren’t sure where to go for care should start with the family doctor, who can make the appropriate recommendation for his or her patient’s health and safety.
Special thanks to chrisopdesoto for the image.