When you are faced with a medical situation, it can be difficult to know what facility is your best option. Many people do not even know there are more options than your primary care doctor and an emergency room. Urgent care facilities are often overlooked in a medical emergency simply due to a lack of education on their services, which will be detailed below.
Before we know the importance of an urgent care facility, it is a good idea to be able to differentiate between the three main health facilities, which are a primary care physician, urgent care, and the hospital’s emergency room.
Primary Care Physician – Typically require an appointment and are aimed at assisting with long term care goals and preventative maintenance.
Urgent Care- For when you need to receive care within 24 hours, but your life is not in danger.
Hospital Emergency Room – Your life is in danger, and you need help immediately.
As a general rule of thumb, urgent care facilities are the best option for you when you need medical attention quickly, and cannot get a reasonably timed appointment at your physician’s office, whether because they are closed or do not have open time slots. Do not go to an urgent care facility if you believe your life is at risk if you are not treated quickly. Your primary physician may not work typical hours and may close on various occasions such as weekends and holidays. These reasons make urgent care the next best option before going to the emergency room. A good question to ask is if you can’t get into your primary care physician, can it wait until tomorrow? If not, head to the urgent care facility closest to you.
While each medical situation is different, and you will have to understand your health and history to make a decision, this list comprises several of the reasons you may need to head to an urgent care clinic.
– You have fallen and are unsure of possible injuries
– You have uncontrollable or long-lasting diarrhea or vomiting
– You are dehydrated
– You are unable to catch your breath or are wheezing
– You have a broken bone in your hands or feet
– You have a cut that is not bleeding profusely but does need stitches
– There is fever without the presence of a rash
– You think you may have the flu
– You suspect you have a urinary tract infection
There are many more reasons that would lead one to choose an urgent care facility, and the list will vary from person to person. Ideally, if your life is not in danger, you should try to see your primary health physician as he will know best your health situation, medications, and concerns. Hospital emergency rooms are for true emergencies, however, and should be kept clear if possible to assist those with life-threatening needs. If you find yourself in a situation almost in the middle, you can’t get to your physician, but it’s not fatal, consider heading to your nearest urgent care facility.