4 Questions To Ask When Deciding Between Urgent Care And Your Primary Physician

Posted on: 9 November 2017

Urgent care centers fulfill an important gap in services between primary physicians and emergency rooms. However, many people are confused about where they should seek medical care when they have an issue. For immediately life threatening issues, you should always go to an emergency room, but knowing when to go to urgent care or your primary physician can be more difficult. Below are some questions to ask yourself to determine where you should go:

Are your symptoms part of a chronic condition? 

At urgent care centers, the doctors treating you may not have your full medical history. Also, each time you go in you will be seen by a different doctor. This makes urgent care centers a poor choice for treatment of chronic conditions that need to be monitored over time. Instead, you should build a relationship with a primary physician to treat chronic conditions. 

Is your primary physician available? 

Many primary physicians work during normal business hours and are unavailable during evenings and weekends. If you have an emergency but not a life-threatening issue when your doctor is unavailable, you should go to an urgent care center. Also, during some seasons primary physicians may have a long wait list, such as during flu season. If your doctor is unable to fit you into their schedule and you need immediate relief, you should go to an urgent care center. However, if your primary physician is available, it is often a better idea to go to them for treatment so they can develop a better medical history for you. 

Does your primary physician have the equipment necessary to perform tests? 

Most primary care physicians do not have x-ray or ultrasound machines in their offices. Additionally, they may have to send you to a laboratory for blood draws or throat cultures if you need these services. If you know your issue will require these services, such as when you have a broken bone, it is a good idea to head directly to an urgent care facility instead of your primary physician. 

Do you need a seasonal vaccine? 

Most urgent care centers have vaccine drives when they offer quick, cheap vaccination services. Often, they may have a larger supply of a vaccine than your primary physician, so if your primary physician does not have the vaccine you want, you can head to the urgent care center to have it placed. 

Urgent care centers are not meant to replace your primary care physician. However, they provide a range of services that complement your primary doctor's care. Contact a company like Meadowbrook Urgent Care for more information and assistance.