Is This Urgent? Or Can It Wait?

This post is sponsored by The Iowa Clinic

urgent care in Des Moines Iowa ClinicThere are many options for urgent care in Des Moines. These clinics fill the gap in care between your primary care provider and the emergency room. You now have a speedy way to get seen for your health issue without going to the hospital.

Urgent care clinics have some great benefits. Extended hours. No appointment necessary. It’s a convenient option when you’re not facing a medical emergency yet can’t wait for an opening in your doctor’s schedule. It also adds another layer of confusion. Which health issues are considered urgent? Which ones can wait for an appointment?

When to go to urgent care:

Emergency room visits should be reserved for life-threatening situations. But there are many conditions that require immediate medical attention or relief.

Go to urgent care when you:

  • Have a condition that isn’t life-or-death but requires immediate medical attention
  • Get seriously ill or injured outside of normal clinic hours
  • Are unable to schedule a timely appointment with your primary care provider or their team

Urgent care clinics can treat a variety of conditions in these situations. Most clinics in the metro are located within primary care clinics or hospitals or have the capabilities of those facilities.

Urgent care is your best option for:

  • Broken bones
  • Fractures
  • Dislocations
  • Minor allergic reactions
  • Constant vomiting
  • Minor head injuries
  • Infusions
  • IVs for hydration or antibiotics
  • Minor eye injuries

When to wait and go to the doctor’s office:

When you’re sick or hurt, it can feel like life or death. A lot of times, it can wait. And there are a lot of benefits to waiting for an appointment with your primary care provider:

  • It’s the lowest out-of-pocket cost.
  • Your doctor knows you and your medical history best.
  • Your primary care clinic has the most comprehensive look at your medical records.

For all these reasons, your primary care provider should be your first point of contact. They are the point person for your overall healthcare, connecting you to all the specialists or services you need — or treating you on their own.

urgent care or emergencyYou should visit your doctor with any health issue that can be treated within the next day, including:

  • Preventive care like routine exams, vaccines, tests or screenings
  • Diabetes and other chronic conditions
  • Refills on prescriptions
  • Mental health issues
  • Women’s health issues such as pap smears, pregnancy tests, or common concerns
  • Hypertension
  • High cholesterol

It’s a toss-up.

Urgent care and primary care clinics often share the same office and are always staffed by providers with the same expertise. You may even schedule an appointment at your primary care location and be seen on the urgent care side where they’re handling an increased demand.

That setup creates an overlap — and a little more confusion — on what conditions are treated in each clinic. There are a lot of either/or conditions that fall into this category. So use your best judgment based on how you feel.

Choose either option when you have:

  • Cold or flu symptoms
  • Upper respiratory infections
  • Pink eye
  • Stomach problems
  • Fever
  • Abdominal pain
  • Back pain
  • Sprains or strains
  • Infections
  • Skin problems
  • Sore throat or cough
  • Headaches or migraines
  • Cuts or minor burns
  • Asthma
  • COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)

telemedicine: urgent care or emergencyWhen you can’t make it to the doctor.

Wait, there’s more! In the age of telemedicine, you have a convenient alternative for health care issues, urgent or not. Virtual care like The Iowa Clinic’s eClinic gives you a chance to see a provider without going into a physical clinic.

When you’re too sick to leave the house or can’t get the time away from work for an appointment, you can get a consultation via online video. Virtual clinics treat many of the same health conditions where urgent care and primary care overlap.

At your time of need, you have plenty of care options. Download this chart to help with your decision-making. Because understanding where to go for your condition will help you get the best treatment, even if it takes some extra time.

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