Know Where to Go: The ER, Urgent Care, or Primary Care – Savers Health
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Know Where to Go: The ER, Urgent Care, or Primary Care

News & Blog

How do I know where to go for medical care?

Life happens. Sometimes it’s a mysterious pain in your side. Other times, it’s a sudden bout of flu-like symptoms. When you’re dealing with pain, illness, or injury, do you know where to go? Should you head to the nearest walk-in clinic, make an appointment with your primary care physician, or seek emergency medical attention at an urgent care or hospital emergency room?

The Emergency Room (or Emergency Department)

Emergency rooms are intended to receive patients who are dealing with life-threatening conditions like severe allergic reactions, debilitating pain like that from appendicitis, or traumatic injuries like those incurred from an assault or car accident. If you suspect you’re dealing with a true emergency and don’t think you can transport the patient (or if you are the patient), then you should call 911 to receive treatment. However, emergency room copays are no joke and can quickly leave you burdened with hefty medical bills, so unless you’re dealing with what appears to be a life-threatening situation, visiting an urgent care clinic or primary care doctor might be a better option.

Urgent Care Centers

Urgent care offices provide treatment and testing for patients who require attention when their primary or family doctor is unavailable. Urgent care centers may have longer wait times on weekends or after regular office hours, but they are a great backup plan for patients seeking treatment for health problems such as flu-like symptoms, rashes, and other acute illnesses.  Urgent care clinics are often covered by insurance, but they also have higher copays than a regular office visit, so be sure to check with your insurance ahead of time.

Primary Care Doctors

Your primary physician is often your best bet for seeking medical care. From minor allergies to your worst stomach bug, your primary doctor knows you and understands your medical history better than an ER or urgent care physician could, meaning you’ll receive more personalized care in a setting you’re already comfortable with. Plus, visiting your primary care physician is likely going to be your most affordable option with or without insurance. If you can safely and comfortably wait to receive treatment from your usual doctor or another physician from the same practice, save yourself the hassle and dollars spent on seeking treatment elsewhere.  

Remember, the most important part of seeking medical attention is ensuring the patient’s safety and wellbeing, if you suspect you need emergency care, of course, you should call 911 or take the patient to the hospital, but if it’s safe to wait until you can visit an urgent care or visit your usual doctor’s office during walk-in hours, it could save you some financial trouble in the long run.

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