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Choose the right place for care

Where to seek medical attention 

When you are not feeling well or are injured, you must decide where to seek care. There are several things to consider in helping you make the best choice for your situation.

Emergency Room 

The emergency room should be used for potentially life-threatening or severe symptoms that need to be addressed immediately. Some examples would be chest pain, shortness of breath, severe pain, significant bleeding, or an accident resulting in injury. The staff in the emergency room are there to address such concerns, get you stabilized, and then determine whether you can go home or if need additional care in the hospital. 

Primary Care Provider 

For non-emergent issues, your primary care provider (PCP) is typically going to be your best option as they know you best and have access to all your medical records. Most offices set aside same-day appointments for this reason, but it is best to contact them first thing in the morning to have the best chance of being seen. They should be able to assess you for minor injuries, illnesses, new or persistent worrisome symptoms.

Urgent Care 

If your PCP is unable to see you, or if you need care after hours or on the weekend and your symptoms are not severe, then an Urgent Care center is likely the right choice. Most of these facilities are open before and after traditional medical offices and have weekend hours. Many can also perform basic laboratory testing and X-rays if needed. 

What should I do before I go to the emergency room or Urgent Care? 

Ensure you have an up-to-date medication list with you. Your insurance co-pay may be higher if you are seen at these facilities instead of your primary care office, so it’s important to understand your health insurance benefits and potential costs. 

Learn about your local options before you need them 

In illness or injury, it’s important to know where to go for care. Learn more about services offered locally at TidalHealth. 

Profile picture for user Dr. Danielle Giddins
Giddins, MD
Contributing Author
& Article Expert
Danielle Giddins, MD has been a member of the TidalHealth family since 2008 and is board-certified by the American Board of Family Medicine. She received her medical degree from Jefferson Medical Coll...

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