When should you go to immediate care? Or the ER? Or your doctor?

Wouldn’t it be nice if you never had any health problems—or if, when you did have them, they always happened during the work week at around 9:30 in the morning? You could call your primary care doctor right away, and often get seen the same day. But, of course, illnesses and injuries don’t always work that way. That’s why emergency rooms and immediate care facilities exist.

But when to use each option?

Emergency Care

If you’re having symptoms of heart attack or stroke, or if you’re having trouble breathing, you should call 911. Paramedics will get you to the ER quickly and safely, and they’ll be able to provide any life-saving measures that might be needed, whether onsite or on the way to the hospital.

For other emergency situations, such as significant bleeding, major injuries, or sudden and rapidly developing illnesses, going to the emergency room, or even calling 911, is almost always the right choice.

If you or your loved one experience any of the following, you should get to the Emergency Room as quickly and safely as possible:

  • Significant bleeding
  • Trouble breathing
  • Significant head trauma
  • Major injuries from accidents
  • Chest pain
  • Stroke symptoms
  • Choking
  • Ingesting poison
  • Broken bones
  • Any other sudden or rapid changes to your health

If in doubt, never be worried about dialing 911 for help. The most important thing in an emergency is getting the proper help as quickly and safely as possible.

Immediate Care

But there may be times when what’s wrong doesn’t seem like an emergency. You have a fever, or some persistent pain. Maybe a cut that’s not bleeding out of control, but doesn’t look like it’s stopping either. These are times when immediate care may be an option, provided you can get there safely.

The advantages of immediate care, like our Hancock Immediate Care Center in Greenfield, are shorter waiting times and, generally speaking, lower costs compared to those at the emergency room. At Hancock Immediate Care Center, you can also take advantage of Save Your Spot online check-in, which potentially reduces your wait time.

The following are some situations in which immediate care may very well be your best option:

  • Minor cuts, scrapes, and bruises
  • Minor swelling, aches, and pains
  • Ear infections
  • Cold symptoms (coughing, sore throat, fever)
  • Flu symptoms (nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea)
  • Sprains and minor injuries

Your Primary Care Doctor

For issues where time is less of a factor, it’s best to consult your primary care doctor. They’re more readily familiar with you, your life, your family, and your medical history.

 

Don’t have a primary care doctor? It’s worth taking the time to find one whose style, office hours, and location work well for you. Your local physician network can be a great place to start your search—they commonly offer amenities such as multiple locations, flexible hours, and same-day appointments.

Virtual Health

Another option patients are increasingly taking advantage of is virtual health (also known as telehealth). At Hancock Health, our Virtual Health Visit service allows you to access world-class health care from a camera-equipped computer, tablet, or smartphone. Get a diagnosis or a prescription from a qualified health provider in as little as 10 minutes. Sign up today, so you’re ready to take advantage of this service whenever you need it.

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