MemorialCare Health System Your Health: Where to Seek Medical Care
Family doctor, urgent care center or emergency room?
It's 4 o'clock in the afternoon. You have a sore throat and you're concerned it may be a strep infection.
So where should you seek treatment— your doctor's office, retail clinic, urgent care center or emergency room?
"If you've got a medical issue that you think needs prompt attention, but isn't an emergency, call your family doctor first," says Candace Basich, M.D., a physician at San Clemente Family Medicine.
This is especially important for people with chronic health conditions. "Your doctor is familiar with your entire medical history, including your medications, physical disabilities and personal circumstances," says Dr. Basich. "This cumulative information helps your provider make informed decisions about your health care."
MemorialCare HealthExpress clinics are a convenient choice for minor health concerns.
MemorialCare HealthExpress is an option for people who need basic health care services for everyday medical concerns. If patients suspect they may have more complex health needs, but don't believe they're experiencing a medical emergency, an urgent care center may be a better choice.
In some cases, however, calling 911 is the best decision. Among the symptoms that warrant paramedic assistance are chest pain, severe bleeding, trouble breathing, intense discomfort in any part of the body or the signs of a stroke—sudden vision changes, slurred speech, one-sided weakness or mental confusion.
"Never try to drive yourself to the ER if you have any of these symptoms," cautions Dr. Taub. "And don't try to take care of the situation yourself, or wait and see if your symptoms disappear. In the case of a stroke or heart attack, irreparable damage may be done to your brain or heart if you delay treatment."
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