Did you know that every year, 110 million people visit the emergency room and that in just one week, around 3 million people visit urgent care centers nationwide? Both are clearly in high demand, but why? What is the emergency room for? And the urgent care center? And when should we just visit our primary care physicians? There are all common questions with some what complicated answers. Check out the good guidelines for which medical professional you should visit.
Is your illness time sensitive?
There are generally two kinds of health issues: acute and chronic. Acute are spontaneous and may require immediate attention. Chronic issues are the result of an injury that happens over time. For example, a sprain is acute while arthritis is chronic. Acute issues are great for 24 hr urgent care but not the emergency room. Finally, chronic issues are better if taken up by family care physicians. Family care providers and primary care physician definitions are the same. These are doctors you develop relationships with over time. They specialize in general health and can make referrals for specialists based on what you are experiencing.
Is the condition life-threatening?
Emergency rooms are great for these kinds of situations! If you have a bullet wound or a seizure or an awful spider bite, consider the emergency room. However, you’ll need to find a primary care physician to manage illnesses that develop over time or a 24 hour walk in clinic for medical emergencies that are just that – emergent- but not necessarily life threatening. Besides, urgent care clinics are really born out of a need for convenience, so why not take them up on that? According to The Urgent Care Association of America, 57% of urgent care patients wait 15 minutes or less, and 80% of all visits take shorter than an hour.
A primary care physician definition can be a little hard to nail down and your involvement with your family health doctor will depend largely on your age and your level of health. Think of this doctor as the gatekeeper to any additional services you may need. For example, if you are dealing with mental health, you can be referred to a specialist. Emergency rooms, family doctors and urgent care clinics: all of these health mechanisms are important and work best when utilized appropriately.