Urgent care is preferred for many health situations that are a cause for concern but do not seem to be life-threatening. Common situations include:
You Should First Seek Treatment with your Primary Care Doctor
If you need rapid care for a non-life-threatening injury or illness, you should first seek treatment with your primary care doctor, or a doctor who could become your primary care doctor. Urgent care clinics are an important part of our healthcare system, but they should be reserved for when and where you are unable to see your regular doctor.
- Fever with flu symptoms
- Sore throat
- Acute minor injuries like small cuts, bruises, or small burns
- Intense headaches, including migraines
- Rash or allergic reaction that doesn’t involve swelling of the airway
- Foreign object in eye or nose
- Persistent diarrhea or vomiting
- Painful urination
In the event of an emergency, you should go to the emergency room (ER) for the cases listed below. Doctors in the ER can assess, and give you the immediate care you need. You should call 9-1-1 if you are unable to get to a hospital or suspect you have suffered a heart attack or stroke.
- Persistent shortness of breath or chest pain, especially pain that you feel in your arm or jaw
- Severe pain in the abdomen or lower back
- Loss of balance, fainting, weakness, or paralysis
- Difficulty speaking or confusion
- Heart palpitations
- Loss of vision
- Sudden severe headache
- Head and eye injuries
- Broken bones or dislocated joints
- High fever or fever with rash
- Sudden testicular pain and swelling
- Continuous or repeated vomiting
- Severe burns
- Cuts that would require stitches or don’t stop bleeding
- Vaginal bleeding with pregnancy
- Onset of seizures without prior history
Your Primary Care Doctor Ensures Continuity of Care. The main reason to see your primary care doctor for urgent care is that this will help ensure continuity of care. When you go to urgent care for treatment, the information about the injury or illness and any treatments received may or may not be communicated properly to your primary care doctor. This may make your medical records incomplete, and it may make it harder for you to receive appropriate follow-up care. An urgent care doctor may recommend important follow-up care or tests, but if you do not follow-up with your primary care doctor, you may not receive the recommended care you may require. Although, if you work with your primary care doctor, your doctor will know about the need for follow-up.
You may also forget to inform the urgent care doctors about important aspects of your medical history. This may make it difficult for the urgent care doctors to give you the best care possible. However, your primary care doctor already has access to all your medical history and can make informed decisions about the proper care for you.