Gone are the days of deciding between going to your primary care physician, the ER, or staying at home when you are sick or hurt. Today there are many alternatives. Understanding your options now will make deciding where to get care easier when the time comes.
Needs Immediate Attention – But Not Severe
When your condition needs to be taken care of right away, but is not life threatening, you may consider going to an urgent care clinic. These facilities usually have longer business hours, including evenings and weekends. They can provide on-site diagnostic tests like ER clinics, but for a fraction of the time and money spent. Urgent Care clinics can treat common illnesses, such as colds, flu and sore throats, as well as minor injuries, such as minor broken bones and burns, sprains, minor eye injuries, and cuts.
Life Threatening Conditions
Emergency Rooms may be the right choice for you if your condition is severe. These clinics are open 24/7 and offer a wide range of specialized care, making it the most expensive type of care. Conditions fit for this care include trouble breathing, severe chest pain, unusual headache, broken bones, possible overdose, suicidal thoughts, serious burns and wounds, seizures, and other serious conditions.
If you are not sure which to visit, and do not have a life-threatening condition, call your primary care physician and describe your symptoms. If their office is not open, you may consider researching your symptoms on the internet at sites like The Mayo Clinic’s, visiting a pharmacy’s clinic, or consulting with your doctor’s nurse telephone advice hotline.
Knowing what your choices are before an accident occurs and you are forced into a quick decision is extremely helpful. You can do this by determining your closest emergency room, urgent care center and walk-in clinic.
Source: BCBS of Michigan, National Center for Biotechnology Information, and National Institutes of Health