You wake up in the middle of the night with a pain in your belly. Your mind goes wild, telling you it's your gall bladder, appendicitis, perforated ulcer—or maybe it's just Aunt Rosa's extra spicy chicken taco casserole. Who you gonna call? Perhaps your nearest urgent care clinic.
When you are in need of medical care or medical advice, you have four basic options: your primary care physician, an emergency room, an urgent care facility or the Internet. If it is after regular office hours, you may not want or be able to schedule an expensive after-hours appointment with your physician. And a visit to the emergency room can involve long wait times and be prohibitively expensive.
You can go online, where you see a myriad of options of what might be causing your pain, and in the meantime you're not feeling any better, not to mention the needless worry your mind creates while thinking the worst. The Internet is a wonderful tool, but when you're in pain and in need of a definite diagnosis, quickly, it might not be your best option.
Often, the urgent care clinic down the street is a great option. An urgent care facility is not meant to replace the care of your regular physician or the emergency care of the ER, but in many circumstances, such as broken bones, non-life-threatening wounds or minor illnesses, it's an excellent alternative.
Physician, Internet, Emergency, or Urgent Care
Americans today are fortunate to have many options for obtaining medical advice and care—so many that sometimes you don't know which to choose. Of course, your primary physician should be your primary source of medical care. He or she has a personal relationship with you and your medical history and can provide care specific to your needs. However, sometimes your physician may not be available or you're embarrassed to ask about a particular symptom. That's where the Internet can be an important resource.
The Internet is a great research tool. You can go online and determine possibilities for why you have numbness in your feet or a red rash on your chest. You may be able to find basic information and solutions for minor problems, but you need to be wary of online advice. It may or may not be medically accurate.
Emergency rooms are an essential element of any hospital environment. They have saved countless lives. For patients with life threatening trauma or conditions such as stroke or heart attack, ERs offer the best chance of survival. For less severe conditions, ERs may prove time consuming and very expensive, and an urgent care clinic may be a better option.
Urgent care facilities are like a miniature combination of a medical office and the ER. They have the equipment and knowledgeable staff to diagnose and treat most illnesses and injuries, typically have less wait times and are less expensive than a visit to your physician or ER. Although it is an excellent option for non-life-threatening illnesses, injuries such as broken bones or sprains, and minor wounds that require medical attention, an urgent care clinic is not a substitute for your regular physician, and you should not use them for routine well-exams and procedures. An urgent care facility like Nathan Littauer Hospital & Nursing Home will provide the necessary initial care and then refer you back to your physician or a specialist for follow up care.