On the spectrum of medical care from your scheduled doctor appointment to an emergency service in the ER, the use of an immediate care center falls in the middle.
These centers may be stand-alone types of practices, or they can be associated with a clinic. The latter provides more seamless care for the patient as they utilize the same resources and specialists as the family doctor. It also makes it easier for the patient in knowing the level of care and services they can expect from the clinic.
Knowing if you need to use an immediate care center or if you should wait and book an appointment with your family doctor is really a matter of the symptoms you are experiencing. By understanding when to wait, when to use the urgent care clinic or when to go to the ER you can optimize your use of the medical services at hand.
For typical types of services such as vaccinations, routine health exams, minor or chronic injury monitoring or treatments your doctor is often the best option. However, if there is an injury or health issue that occurs when the doctor’s office is closed in the evening or even over the weekend, the urgent care center is a good choice if you don’t feel it can wait for treatment.
Any type of contagious disease should be seen as early as possible. Infections, moderate and non life-threatening wounds, burns or skin conditions should also be seen immediately at the immediate care center, don’t wait for days to see your doctor.
The Emergency Room
When a health condition is life-threatening, go to an emergency room immediately. This includes if you think the patient may have had a heart attack or stroke, is having seizures or has lost consciousness or if there is any type of significant or profuse injuries.
If in doubt, call the urgent care center and describe the condition. While the staff cannot provide a diagnosis, they can let you know if urgent care or emergency services are the most appropriate choice.
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