Where to Go When You Need Medical Care
As Americans, we are fortunate to have several options for medical care when we need it. When we need medical help, we can seek care with a primary care physician. We can go to an urgent care clinic. We can get treatment at a emergency walk in clinic.
We have so many options that it might be hard to know when to get care at which. In some cases, you get the same treatment from more than one yep of medical facility. Maybe you need a prescription for antibiotics to treat an infection. You could get that from your regular doctor, or you could get it from a walk in urgent care facility. If you require fracture care, your doctor probably can’t help you, but it might be appropriate to go to an emergency walk in clinic or an urgent care doctor.
To help you determine when which type of medical facility is best for you, we created a quick overview of primary care physicians, urgent care clinics, and emergency walk in clinics.
Where to Go When You Need Medical Care
- Sometimes Your Doctor is Your Best Option
Urgent care and emergency walk in clinics are equipped to treat almost any ailment that requires immediate care, but your doctor is the best resource when your medical care involves an ongoing treatment plan. Your doctor has the best knowledge of your history, and is available to keep track of the progress of your medical treatment plan, and adjust it as needed.
For example, let’s say you are struggling to breath. This type of medical need should be addressed by the emergency room. The emergency room doctors will give you treatment to ensure that you can get the oxygen you need and address your immediate medical needs. However, they might recommend that you followup with your primary care physician to create an ongoing care plan to improve your asthma, or whatever medical condition is leading to your breathing issue to begin with. The job of your doctor is to attend your long term care.
- But Urgent Care Can Do More Than You Think
Now that we’re clear on when it is best to see your doctor, let’s talk about when you should go to urgent care. The great thing about urgent care is that in some ways its treatment options overlap with both your doctor and the emergency room. When you need a one-time prescription for an illness you have right now, you can get it from your doctor or from urgent care. If your doctor can’t offer you an appointment for a few days, you can get it from urgent care on a walk in basis.
Meanwhile, urgent care offers services that your doctor doesn’t offer that will save you a trip to ER. Urgent care is able to administer IV fluids (usually). Most urgent care clinics can take x-rays and offer fracture care if you’ve broken a bone (as long as it isn’t a compound fracture, meaning the bone is actually protruding from your skin). Many urgent care clinics have lab services in house, so you don’t have to visit a separate lab to get blood work done for a medical test. Urgent care is a great option for medical needs your doctor can’t provide (or when your doctor can’t see you fast enough) that are not medical emergencies.
- Sometimes Emergency Room is the Best Place to Go
While your doctor and local urgent care clinic can cover most of the medical needs you might have, there are some medical treatments that should only be addressed in an emergency room. The emergency room serves a very important function in our medical infrastructure: to treat medical needs that are emergencies. If the vitality of the person needing medical care is on the line, bypass your doctor or urgent care, and go straight to emergency room. A few examples of that are:
- If the patient is bleeding profusely. If the blood flow is pulsing as it comes out, you need to go straight to ER.
- Symptoms of a heart attack or stroke.
- Blunt force trauma to the head or neck.
- The patient is unable to breath.
- The patient lost consciousness.
These medical needs (or any other life-threatening issues) should only be addressed by the ER.
Do you have any questions? Please share below!