When to Choose The Urgency Room Instead of Your Primary Care Physician

Posted by Tyler Weber on Monday, March 4, 2024
Keywords: primary care physician vs urgency room

If you’ve ever struggled with the internal debate of seeking urgent care vs primary care, then you know just how stressful it is to make that choice. Taking care of your health is a top priority, and patients want to ensure they’re getting the best care to address any issues or concerns as they arise. Sometimes in the heat of the moment, it's hard to decide who can address your concerns in the most efficient and timely manner. 

Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to determine whether your needs will be met best by visiting an urgent care or your primary care physician. We’ll walk you through everything you need to know about when to visit one of these health facilities.

Urgent Care vs Primary Care: Who Do You Need to See?

Urgent Care clinics are often equipped with specialized equipment that won’t be found in a regular doctor’s office. While your primary care physician is an excellent resource for meeting most of your health needs and concerns, they won’t have some of the tools to address more serious or time-sensitive issues. 

For example, if you have an injury requiring a CT scan or an X-ray, your primary care doctor may not be able to help. At the Urgency Room, we can both perform CT scans and X-rays on-site to provide an accurate diagnosis and develop a treatment plan. Most urgent cares and regular primary physicians do not have CT scanners on-site and will refer you elsewhere.

Beyond that, other indicators will determine whether you need to visit an urgent care or your primary physician.

Urgent Care

Urgent care clinics are an excellent resource for patients with severe symptoms or time-sensitive issues that can’t be addressed immediately by their primary care physician. 

One of the many benefits of visiting The Urgency Room is being seen the same day your concerns arise. You can contact any of our locations to schedule a same-day appointment. We accept walk-in care, without an appointment for patients with concerns requiring immediate attention. Patients can also start a visit online (no appointment necessary!) to address immediate concerns that don’t require an in-person visit.

Here are some of the most common conditions treated at an urgent care:

  • Eye and mouth problems: Strep throat, cold sores, pink eye, styes, impetigo, canker sores, etc.(these are all applicable for online care as well)
  • Head injuries
  • Broken bones
  • Head lice, tick, and other insect bites
  • Respiratory infections, allergies, and COVID-19
  • Skin and nail problems: athlete’s foot, ringworm, minor burns, eczema, shingles, etc.
  • Yeast infections and UTIs

Your primary care physician can also treat many of these conditions. However, when you're debating between urgent care and primary care, consider the severity of your symptoms and how quickly you need to be seen.

If your symptoms are mild and you feel safe waiting for an appointment with your primary care physician, you may want to visit their office. Time-sensitive issues and more severe symptoms that require being seen quickly are often better addressed at an urgent care clinic.

Primary Care

Your primary care physician should be your resource for managing ongoing and long-term health needs. They can diagnose and treat long-term conditions and provide continuing care over many years. 

When managing long-term health issues, contacting your primary care physician is helpful, as they’ll have all your records for previous tests performed, diagnoses given, and treatment plans implemented.

Some of the most common long-term health issues primary care physicians treat include:

  • High blood pressure or cholesterol
  • Mental health
  • Wellness or routine visits

Your primary care physician also can refer you to specialty offices when necessary, such as a neurologist or dermatologist. 

In general, here are some reasons why you should choose an urgent care vs primary care:

  • You have a medical issue that requires immediate attention
  • Your symptoms are severe and impacting the quality of your life

How Are Urgent Care Centers Different From Ordinary Doctor’s Offices?

Several differences between urgent care vs primary care will help you determine where to go when a medical issue becomes apparent. One of the biggest differences is the speed at which you can be seen and treated. 

Primary care physicians can often treat minor concerns with mild symptoms. Illnesses, injuries, or other concerns impacting your quality of life or causing severe symptoms must be treated quickly, which is best done at urgent care. 

Primary care physicians require you to make an appointment, which can take weeks, depending on your area. On the other hand, urgent care centers are often open seven days a week and allow walk-ins, allowing you to resolve the issue quickly.

Another major difference is the diagnostic ability of each health center. Primary care physicians are usually capable of basic testing and blood work but don’t have some of the specialized equipment that urgent care centers do. If you believe your symptoms may require advanced diagnostics, you may be better suited from a visit to an urgent care or Urgency Room. 

Can I Just Use Urgent Care As Primary Care?

While urgent care clinics and The Urgency Room are excellent resources for patients who have issues they can’t wait to have their primary care physician treat, they aren’t a replacement for primary care.

Urgent care centers can treat all the same issues and illnesses as a primary care physician, but it’s important to have a primary care physician who can help manage your ongoing, long-term health needs.

Having a primary care physician is ideal for routine and wellness visits. Urgent care is better suited toward addressing immediate needs that don’t require a trip to the ER but require treatment within 24 hours.

What’s the Best Time to Go to Urgent Care?

Many urgent care clinics are open seven days a week, including holidays. Their hours are also usually longer than those of a primary care physician. The Urgency Room is open from 8 am to 9 pm, daily. We also offer online visits from 8am to 8pm. 

The best time to go to urgent care is when your symptoms or concerns begin. It’s important not to wait until the issue becomes more severe, especially when dealing with a head injury, potential broken bones, abdominal pain, and other potentially serious issues. 

Some clinics may require you to call ahead of time and set an appointment to be seen that day, so check the typical procedures for your local urgent care clinic when seeking treatment. 

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