Should you go to the hospital or a clinic?

Should you go to the hospital or a clinic?
July 14 09:52 2017 Print This Article

Sometimes it is difficult to figure out where you should seek medical care. Many illnesses or causes for concern may seem pressing, but do they really warrant a trip to the hospital and a massive medical bill? Maybe your injury is severe and an urgent care clinic, while cheaper, would not have the tools necessary to help you. Whatever your case may be, there are a few things to consider before you decide on where to go:

  1. Would you normally just go to your primary care physician?

Many people who go to urgent care centers or hospitals do so because their primary care provider’s office is closed or they cannot make a same-day appointment. If this is the case, you probably are not in need of emergency care; rather, you just need to be seen quickly. That would call for urgent care, which is essentially after-hours and same-day care with capable primary physicians.

  1. Are your vital organs being affected?

If you are having any issues that involve vital organs such as the heart, lungs or brain, get to the emergency room. Some examples of worrisome symptoms are chest pains, difficulty breathing and sudden confusion. Your vital organs are exactly that, so it is imperative that you keep them in tip-top shape and not put off going to a doctor if they are threatened in any way.

  1. What type of treatment would you require?

Small injuries that could be cared for with butterfly stitches and ointment or common colds that just will not go away can be easily taken care of at an urgent care center. But if you have a more severe injury such as a deep cut or break, or anything that would require an MRI, X-ray, CT scan or other test, it may be necessary to visit the emergency room. Many clinics are not equipped to handle anything other than basic diagnostic testing, so visiting one just to be told to go to the hospital can cost you precious time in an emergency.

In short, trust your best judgment. If you can wait a day or two to be seen by a doctor, schedule an appointment with the primary physician who knows your health and medical background well. Should you find yourself needing basic health care after your doctor’s office has closed or when your provider is otherwise unavailable, make your way to a clinic to be seen immediately. But if your life is in danger or you need imaging tests, the hospital is the best place for you. Of course, if you are not sure where to go for your particular cause, err on the side of caution. While unnecessarily filling up beds in a busy hospital is not ideal, it is better to be safe than to be sorry.


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Nathaniel Little
Nathaniel Little

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