Long ago, there was a time when doctors used to make house calls with their bag of supplies in tow. And while doctors still make occasional house calls today, it’s far more common for their patients to go see them. Furthermore, there are several facilities where patients can be treated by doctors, with the most common being hospital emergency rooms, urgent care locations, and primary care offices.
So where should patients go when they need to see a doctor? Well, that depends. Here are a few things to consider when seeking medical help.
Is it life threatening?
If you’re experiencing symptoms such as numbness or tingling, tightness in the chest, shortness of breath, fainting, severe pain, or anything else that points to a life threatening condition, then it’s best to go straight to the emergency room for treatment. Emergency care is best reserved for serious injury or life threatening conditions. For women who are pregnant, going to the emergency room for symptoms such as abdominal pain is recommended.
Can it wait until tomorrow?
If you’re feeling under weather but your condition isn’t exactly life threatening, then you should seek treatment at your local walk in medical clinic. Also known as urgent care, walk in medical clinics are designed to treat conditions that are non-life threatening, but that still require immediate medical attention. Some of the most common conditions treated at walk in medical clinics are urinary tract infections, upper respiratory infections, sore throats, strains, and sprains.
Is it chronic?
If you have a chronic or long term condition such as arthritis, then seeking treatment with your primary care provider is recommended. Primary care physicians focus on the overall, long term care of their patients and can develop treatment plans for the long haul. They may even refer you to a specialist such as an allergist or dermatologist for specialized treatment. Primary care physicians also perform routine testing for blood sugar, cholesterol, vitamin deficiencies, and more.
Knowing where to go and when is an important part of taking charge of your medical health. When in doubt, it’s also better to be safe rather than sorry. You may find it helpful to review your medical history with your primary care physician and ask their opinion on what to do in case of an emergency or when you feel ill.