Know when to choose primary care, urgent care or the ER

Know when to choose primary care, urgent care or the ER

When it’s 9:00 p.m. Friday and that nagging cough is getting worse, it’s hard to know what to do. Go to the emergency room? Wait for your doctor’s office to open on Monday? Find an urgent care center nearby?

Here is a quick guide to get you going in the right direction.

Level of care you need

Your choice for medical attention makes a difference in time, cost and follow-up care. That’s why it’s important to know what to expect from each option.

Consider your doctor’s office your medical home. It’s where providers know your medical history and how best to keep you healthy. Make your family doctor your first stop when you need routine medical attention or ongoing management of a chronic condition, like diabetes or heart disease. Typically, it’s also the most affordable option.

If you need a primary care provider, use the Goshen Health Find a Provider tool to search online for a doctor or specialist near you. Go to

Urgent care centers are open extended hours. When you can’t wait for your doctor’s office to open, go to an urgent care center for medical attention. Your wait time may be less than in the emergency room. You’ll get the care you need right away. You can follow up later with your family doctor for ongoing treatment. In most cases, an urgent care visit usually costs less than the ER.

Goshen Physicians Family Medicine and Urgent Care is open seven days a week with evening hours Monday through Friday.

Emergency room care delivers fast, life-saving care. If you have a sudden or severe condition or serious injury, the ER can give you the right care. Be prepared to wait if your condition isn’t critically serious. Urgent care centers usually can take care of you more quickly. ER services also cost more than other options. That’s why it’s not the best choice for minor illnesses or injuries.

The emergency center at Goshen Hospital is a Level II. That means you and your family can get immediate care by doctors who are board certified in emergency medicine. For the most critical conditions, the ER team can transfer patients to regional trauma centers for care.

Quick guide to care options

Primary care providers treat a range of conditions such as:

  • Coughs, sore throat
  • Lower back pain
  • Fevers, colds
  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
  • Headaches
  • Ear aches
  • Dizziness, faintness
  • Minor allergic reactions
  • Minor injuries and burns
  • Preventive care
  • Vaccinations/Immunizations
  • Physical exams

Urgent care services take care of immediate medical needs, such as:

  • Treatment for minor illnesses
  • Minor injury and fracture care
  • On-site lab services
  • On-site X-ray imaging services

Emergency rooms treat life-threatening conditions, including:

  • Complex fractures
  • Heart attack symptoms, chest pain, shortness of breath
  • Major trauma or head injury
  • Severe bleeding
  • Severe burns or deep wounds
  • Stroke symptoms, slurred speech, facial drooping

Remember urgent care is not emergency care. If you need immediate medical attention because your condition puts your health at serious risk, go to an emergency room or call 9-1-1 immediately.

Posted: 10/05/2018 by Goshen Health

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