We all often find ourselves in situations that require professional medical attention. The question that remains is: what kind of attention does your problem need? Is it an emergency?
Should you schedule an appointment with your regular physician?
Or should you just head to the urgent care center in the neighborhood?
The answer is that it all depends on what is needed at that very moment, i.e., what mode of medical care will be most appropriate for you. For this reason, you must assess the type of illness or injury you have, its severity, and whether the selected site harbors the resources to cater to the issue.
Each provider comes with its pros and cons.
The emergency room has the most resources and can handle any medical issue. They can admit you in case hospitalization is necessary as well as carry out any critical intervention as well. Emergency rooms, however, are generally packed as they are catering to serious cases round the clock. They are also much more costly compared to the other two options. You should resort to ERs only if the condition is life-threatening.
Urgent care providers provide diagnostic testing and necessary facilities; however, if the issue if life-threatening, you may be referred to an ER as they do not carry the same advanced medical equipment or skilled staff to deal with the matter.
Urgent care centers are open for longer, so you can visit them after regular work hours.
Primary care providers are most suited to cater to regular follow-ups and minor ailments. They do not typically entertain acute problems that require more advanced care that can be easily provided in a hospital ER or an urgent care center.
Additionally, primary care providers work on a strict shift basis, so you will have to book an appointment in advance.
Does urgent care count as primary care?
No, urgent care does not count as primary care. The services offered by both facilities, however, can overlap.
Let us explain the two branches of medical care in further detail.
Your primary care provider plays an integral role in your long-term health. Primary care refers to seeking care from a doctor you go to regularly.
Primary care physicians have access to your medical history and are thus capable of making more educated decisions about the kind of care you need.
Your primary care physician is essentially the person who connects you to other healthcare providers. For instance, if you require specialized care, your primary care doctor will expedite your care to the specialist.
Your primary care physician offers continuity in care in case you require regular follow-ups for ongoing medical issues such as diabetes, hypertension, etc.
Aside from routine follow-ups and refilling prescriptions, you may consult them for acute problems like cold, cough, etc.
When searching for a primary care provider, be sure to inquire about their costs, sick visits policy, follow-up visit frequency, and schedule to ensure that that they fit your demands.
When it comes to costs, primary care can be a little costly. However, your health insurance covers primary care, making it much more affordable.
Urgent care is the connecting bridge between primary care and emergency care. Urgent care centers provide care for minor inconveniences that require immediate attention but are not so severe that you have to be rushed to the ER. These include minor cuts, bruises, and burns, as well as insect bites, sprains, etc. Follow-ups are not generally required with urgent care as only minor interventions are performed.
Urgent care centers deliver care faster than your primary care provider; however, they do not offer the same advanced facilities like a hospital ER. They are open for longer hours and do not require you to make an appointment beforehand. Urgent care also caters to lab tests, x-rays, immunizations, etc.
When it comes to costs, in Dallas, Urgent Care centers are much more affordable than an ER, and most of them accept insurance.
Which is the better pick?
There is no better or worse pick here because it all depends on your individual needs.
If your condition requires someone who knows your detailed medical history and can help you manage a chronic condition, it is best to consult your primary care physician. Additionally, if you are experiencing something that can wait, we recommend getting help from your regular doctor.
Urgent care should be used as a supplemental to primary care as opposed to a replacement. Yes, you may utilize urgent care in some cases; however, it is not recommended. Unless it is after hours, and you cannot wait for a regular appointment with your primary care physician, then only should you head to the urgent care center.
It is critical to understand that there is no significant difference in the quality of care being provided.
Primary care and urgent care a synonymous in most regards; however, if you are looking for a quicker and cheaper option, urgent care is the way to go.