The Double Edged Sword That is Urgent Care Centers

The Double Edged Sword That is Urgent Care Centers

Health and Fitness July 10, 2015

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Urgent care clinics have been both a curse and a blessing to the American healthcare system. While these facilities have been extremely successful in bridging the gap between hospital emergency rooms and the primary care practices, they’ve also added caused some confusion among patients who have difficulty deciding where to seek the appropriate care.

Urgent care centers were designed as replacements for emergency rooms or primary care physicians, rather they were meant to be used in tandem with these areas. For example, while urgent care center are able to perform quick check ups on patients, this is not what their services are or were meant for.

So, when is it best to seek treatment at an urgent care facility? The answer to this question depends greatly on your health, especially if you have a preexisting condition that may complicate or exacerbate another illness.

Urgent care centers are best best reserved for acutely occurring illnesses and injuries that aren’t severe enough to warrant treatment at an emergency room but still require immediate medical attention. Common examples can include the flu, strep throat, stomach bugs, sprains, and even fractures.

Unfortunately, illnesses aren’t always so cut and dry. This can make it difficult for patients or their loved ones to determine where to seek the right care. As a rule of thumb, those with chronic or underlying health conditions should err on the side of caution and seek care at a hospital if symptoms such as irregular heartbeat, loss of speech, numbness or tingling, and chest pain develop. These are signs of a potentially serious, if not fatal, condition.

On the other hand, most people find the care provided at urgent care clinics to be more than enough for common illnesses or injuries. However, you may be asked to follow up with your primary care provider if further care is required. Why? Primary care physicians focus on your overall health and well being, though they do treat acute illnesses or injuries. However, your primary care physician is more familiar with your overall health and may be able to identify a pattern in your medical history.