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When to Go to Urgent Care and When Not To

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The U.S. is not feeling so well. About two-thirds of the population are overweight; alcohol abuse is the number one drug problem; and one in every four people suffer from pain that lasts longer than 24 hours, while millions more suffer from acute pain.

And yet, somehow, we’re still making too many trips to the emergency room. As rough as the United States’ state of health is, the country still manages to waste about $4.4 billion on emergency care costs.

The fact of the matter is that if people were to go to their family practice doctors or to urgent care doctors when they were supposed to instead of the emergency room, hospitals would be able to cut down on 17% of patients, freeing up ER doctors to give care to those who need it.

However, this begs the question of when? When should you go to your family practice doctor or to an urgent care doctor?

When to See the Family Doctor.
If you have a medical issue, the default place you should go is to your family practice doctor. Whether it’s because you’re sick, you need a checkup, you have a medical concern, or whatever other issue, try to schedule an appointment with your primary care physician first.

When to Go to the ER.
If you have a medical emergency, you need to go to the ER, obviously, but what’s considered an emergency by one person is not an emergency to another. If it weren’t, then Americans wouldn’t be needlessly going to the ER on such a huge scale. Most consider an emergency to be a situation that’s life threatening, or could permanently impair a person’s quality of life if medical attention is not immediately given. For example, difficulty breathing, compound fractures, seizures, uncontrollable bleeding, knife wounds, gun shot wounds, severe burns, poisoning, and injuries to the head, neck, or back.

When to See an Urgent Care Doctor.
Now, sometimes primary care physicians are unable to make an appointment when you need them to. Other times, a medical situation might not be an emergency, but you still need medical care urgently. For these situations, you need to see an urgent care doctor. Some of the fall in to these gray areas urgent care doctors treat include: falls, sprains, strains, minor cuts, diagnostic services, eye irritation, flu, minor fractures, skin rashes, and infections.

Chances are you should either see your primary care physician or an urgent care doctor, but if you’re not sure, head to the ER anyways just to be safe. If you have any questions about whether or not to see an urgent care doctor, feel free to share in the comments.

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