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Do I Call My Primary Care Doctor or Go to Urgent Care Center/ER when I'm Sick

The majority of Americans with primary care providers don't get to see their own primary care provider when they need them for acute or urgent visits. Sicknessnes don't come planned and patients can't schedule their sickness according to their doctor's schedule. This leads to high cost urgent care center visits or ER visits with unpredictable waiting times or treatments due to the lack of knowledge of the patient's health history. Of course, if something is life threatening, urgent, or a real emergency, then paying a visit to the urgent care center and ER is reasonable, but a patient shouldn't have to pay a very large amount of money and time for an illness which a primary care provider should take care of. 

A primary care physician is a specialist in Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, or Pediatrics, who provides definitive care to the undifferentiated patient at the point of first contact, and takes continuing responsibility for providing the patient's comprehensive care. This includes taking care of patients when they have an acute sickness from a wide range of conditions and often times, primary care providers seek consulatations to manage patients health problems. 

 

What to do when you call your primary care provider and you don't get an appointment?

I think all patients should discuss this important question with their primary care provider during their first visit. There should be some sort of plan in place for acute illnesses that are not life threatening. Having said that, sometimes it is hard to distinguish life threatening from minor illnesses. Patients should have access to trained triage nurses to help them navigate through this difficult question. In the majority of cases, patients can best be served over a tele-visit or an in-person visit with their primary care providers, compared to ER and urgent care center visits. 

At Premier Primary Care, we pledge to see our patients the same day or the next day if they need us for their acute or chronic needs. Our innovative process allows us to serve our patients without long wait times for appointments or long wait times in the waiting room. Our online appointment booking allows patients to request their appointments even after office hours. We are further innovating our appointment booking process so that patients will be able to pick their date and time slot as they do for airline bookings and others. We make it avaliable to our patients to text our HIPAA secure EMR from their cell phones to allow easy communication.  

Premier Primary Care's mission is to provide the highest quality care with exceptional patient experience. Call 812-250-1818 or visit our website www.primarycareonline.org to book your appointments. 

 

Author
Suresh Lohano M.D., M.B.A., F.A.C.P., F.A.A.P., F.H.M.

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