Primary Care Doctor, Urgent Care or an Emergency Room?

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Everyone has seen the urgent care clinics popping up all over their neighborhood. People may wonder what the difference is between those and an emergency room at the local hospital or your regular physician at your doctor?s office. You may have noticed that the urgent care is open extended hours, longer than your primary care physicians, but it is not 24 hours, like the local hospitals emergency room is. With all of these medical care options, which one is best for which type of medical problems? This can be confusing, and people who wish to consult with a doctor may wonder which the best option for them is.

Time is a factor. Most people prefer to seek consultation from their primary care physician. They are generally comfortable with this doctor, sometimes seeing them for many years. They are already familiar with your health information and your insurance information, making the visit easier. They are also already familiar with prescriptions that are currently being taken, and with any other important medical information. However, if an illness or an injury occurs after a regular doctor?s office hours, it may be time to consider an urgent care or an emergency room. Only 29% of primary care doctors have after hour?s coverage, making it very difficult for some to fit them into their schedules. Additionally, someone who works the same hours as a primary care doctor may need to visit a medical office with better and longer hours open.

The type of emergency will also depend on which medical office type to go to. Something like women?s health can often wait until an appointment can be made at the health clinic for women or at the primary care doctor?s office. A family health clinic, although informed on women?s health, may not be as qualified as a health clinic for women would be.

If an emergency or an illness occurs after hours, then the choice is between visiting a hospital emergency room or the local urgent care or community health clinic. After hours urgent care is generally less busy than an emergency room might be. However, the health clinic for women and the urgent care clinic may not have all of the necessary equipment that a hospital?s emergency room would have. The doctors may also not be as readily available. A hospital emergency room is often very busy, making for long wait times. In fact, in 2009, 78% of visits occurred in emergency departments that reported boarding admitted patients in hallways and in other spaces while waiting for an inpatient bed to become available.

Money may also weight into the choice of which type of medical office to visit. Insurance copays may also vary between offices. Insurance for family care is often decided upon based on the insurance provider?s coverage preferences. It is also a good idea to consult with the insurance provider on the copays of other types of medical offices. They can also complete a primary care physician search, for those yet to choose a primary care doctor. Average expenses for people who have one or more visits to the Emergency Room were $1,318 in 2009, according to the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS). The median or the typical cost was $615.

There are many types of health facilities to use when an injury or an illness occurs, such as the health clinic for women. Each one has their own benefits and their own disadvantages. A hospital is often quicker, but can produce longer wait times and can cost more. An urgent care may also cost more than a primary care doctor, but is not as much of a wait when there is a moderate emergency. Primary care doctors already have all of your information and your health records. They are only open for a limited amount of hours, though. The best type of medical office will depend on things like time, the injury or the illness and the cost of the visits.

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