Urgent Care vs Primary Care: What You Need to Know

In 2018, of the 130 million people who ended up in the emergency room, 27% (35 million) of the cases were injury-related, and 12.4% (16.2 million) ended up in hospital admission. These figures cover a wide variety of conditions, including headaches, upper respiratory infection, dizziness, lower back pain, constipation, nausea, and many others. But if you’re dealing with these or other conditions, is emergency care the way to go? Is it better to seek out urgent care or primary care? What are the advantages?

If you live in Panama City, Florida, and are looking to get help with these and other issues, help is available. Dr. Roman Nation and the caring staff at Nation's Best Family Health Care have comprehensive experience providing high-quality care for their patients.

The differences between primary care and urgent care

Although there is a lot of overlap in what both services offer, the biggest difference between the two is how much each specialist knows about your specific needs and how immediate treatment is needed. 

Your primary care physician (PCP) is your main doctor; they manage your overall medical care and refer you to specialists when necessary for tests and other needs. They know your medical history and take care of standard things like annual exams, prescription refills, and vaccinations. An urgent care specialist is used when specific needs require attention as soon as possible or when that care is outside of standard office hours.

When do you need primary care?

Since primary care is designed around long-term care for you from your PCP, non-emergency treatment for things like viruses, bacteria, injuries, accidents, and other concerns are often handled through this method. A PCP will be more familiar with your medical history, so any symptoms that may be connected to previous issues or chronic conditions will be caught easier and managed quicker. 

Their access to your medical history also allows for managing things like allergies, family medical history, and knowledge of your prescription medications. More familiarity with your PCP also means you’re more likely to open up about any concerns with symptoms that may not be urgent, but could be a potential concern. 

When do you need urgent care?

The primary function of urgent care is just what the name indicates — managing conditions that need attention as soon as possible. Your PCP can handle many of these conditions (sprains, strains, infections, colds, flu, cuts, fever, allergies, bruises, etc), but may be bad enough to require immediate attention or may have happened after regular office hours. Although it can be used for things like fractures, burns, and chest pain, severe versions of those conditions or worse should be taken to the emergency room.

You should also follow up visits to an urgent care facility with a visit to your PCP. Let them know what’s happening and inform them of any changes in your condition from your urgent care visit.

Understanding when you need to use urgent care or your primary care physician can help to improve the quality of treatment you receive. If you need treatment, make an appointment with Dr. Nation and Nation's Best Family Health Care to get help today.

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