Urgent Care vs. Primary Care

Happy boy at the reception of a hospital wearing a facemask

Often, people in need of medical care end up in the emergency room. Sometimes, in fact, people go to the emergency room with conditions like headaches, upper respiratory infections, back pain, constipation, nausea, and other common problems. While the ER serves an important function, it’s not really the best place to get this kind of routine care. It’s advisable to get a primary care physician, but if that’s not possible, urgent care offers a better option than the emergency room.

What’s the difference between primary and urgent care? The biggest difference is how well the provider knows you. When you establish a relationship with a primary care doctor, that physician will be your main doctor, overseeing your medical care and referring you to specialists as necessary. An urgent care center, on the other hand, fills in the blanks if you don’t have a primary care doctor or you need treatment after normal office hours.

Primary care is meant to be your long-term care option, and your primary care physician (PCP) will know your medical history. The PCP is in charge of standard exams, prescription refills, vaccinations, and non-urgent medical appointments. It’s extremely helpful to have primary care in place because that’s the doctor who will understand your allergies, family history, medications, and so on. The PCP is usually the doctor who catches chronic illnesses and helps you stay healthy.

As the name implies, urgent care is meant for conditions that need immediate attention. If you have an accident or get sick after your primary care doctor’s office hours, heading to an urgent care facility may be more convenient and less expensive than going to the emergency room. Of course, very severe injuries or ailments may be better served by the ER. Most medical conditions, however, can be managed by urgent care.

After you’ve been seen in an urgent care clinic, you should follow up with your primary care physician. Your PCP needs to know what happened to you and will be able to manage your condition once the urgent care has addressed the immediate need. In this way, primary and urgent care physicians can work together to help take care of your health. When the primary care and the urgent care are in the same facility, it makes addressing your healthcare even simpler.

Whether you need urgent care or you’re looking for a primary care physician, the goal of Total Point Urgent Care is to be a convenient healthcare resource for people in our community. Providing immediate medical care at a fraction of the cost of an emergency room, our neighborhood clinics offer warm, efficient, personalized care. At our locations in Texas and Arizona, our on-site technology and services include urgent care, primary care, specialty care, routine checkups, COVID-19 testing, and onsite lab and x rays. Soon, we’ll even offer virtual visits so that our patients can choose telecare instead of risking a trip to the clinic. For convenient medical care, visit one of our locations or contact us through our website.

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