When you or someone in your family is sick or injured, it’s natural to be a little apprehensive – especially if you’re unsure of what exactly is wrong.

Of course, it seems like those illness or injuries tend to rear their inconvenient heads just when your family physician has closed up shop for the night, or on a weekend afternoon. It’s times like these when you have to wonder whether your ailment can wait a day or two for a doctor’s appointment, whether you need an urgent care facility right away, or whether your particular issue necessitates an emergency room visit.

For obvious reasons – costs and waiting time being high on the list – most people want to avoid an emergency room trip. Here’s a breakdown of where you should seek treatment and when. Of course, each case is different, so you’ll need to go with your gut when confronted with this decision.

Family Physician

You should seek out your family physician as your first step when experiencing a non-life-threatening emergency. This includes flus, colds, aches, pains, and non-threatening, “annoying” symptoms. Your doctor will gather the necessary information and diagnose your issue, or refer you to a specialist if necessary.

Urgent Care

An urgent care facility admits walk-in patients and generally has extended evening and weekend hours. An urgent care facility is a great alternative to your family doctor if you need attention during non-office hours. Seek urgent care when you have a high fever, sprain, non-severe cuts and bruises and eye injuries and you are unable to see your primary physician.

Emergency Room

If you have a serious condition, forgo your family doctor and urgent care facility (even if it is during office hours) and get to the emergency room. The hospital can provide you with in-patient services as well as diagnostic and surgical services if needed. Serious conditions include heart attacks, severe cuts and bleeding, suspected broken bones, poisoning or life-threatening allergic reactions, or other severe, undiagnosed symptoms. Keep in mind that you may want to call an ambulance for extreme cases.

When in doubt, give us a call! But remember, if you’re experiencing a life-threatening emergency, call 911 immediately.

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