Choosing the Right Level of Urgent Care
When treatment is needed, where should you turn?
When you are sick or injured, deciding where to get care may seem like a daunting task – one you would rather not worry about. But, as health care evolves, more treatment options emerge.
Understanding these options now will make deciding between a primary care physician, PromptCare, the emergency department and an online resource like OSF OnCall easier to manage when it’s needed.
Your primary care physician is often the best place to start when you're sick or hurt. He or she will know your health history and will be able to make the best informed choices for your care.
But what if you need care when your doctor isn’t immediately available?
OSF PromptCare clinics offer extended hours for walk-in visits and can be used if your condition isn’t life-threatening but needs to be taken care of right away. Conditions that can be treated include:
- Sprains and strains
- Painful urination
- Minor cuts or burns
- Severe sore throat
- Ear pain
- Pink eye
- Skin rash
- Poison ivy
- Insect bites
OSF OnCall, an online urgent care clinic, is a good choice for many of the urgent (but not emergency) health conditions listed above and has the added convenience of being accessible 24 hours a day, 365 days a year from your smartphone, tablet or computer.
An online visit costs a flat fee of $35. If a provider determines the condition requires an in-person visit, the patient will not be charged for the online visit.
The Emergency Department is the best place for treating severe and life-threatening conditions such as:
- Chest pain (especially if it radiates to your arm or jaw or is accompanied by sweating, vomiting or shortness of breath)
- Blurred vision, sudden dizziness, weakness or loss of coordination or balance, sudden severe headache
- Uncontrolled bleeding
- Head or eye injury
- High fever with rash (or fever in a newborn)
- Severe abdominal pain
- Broken bones or dislocated joints
The Emergency Department is the most comprehensive, but also the most expensive type of urgent care available.
According to Dr. Brian Curtis, Director of Physician Practice for OSF Medical Group, sometimes the best option is to skip the trip completely, stay home and monitor symptoms. This is especially the case for those suffering from mild flu-like illness.
"Even with people who have influenza, we generally tend not to treat unless they have other medical conditions: they can become very sick or be hospitalized, or are at an increased risk of death - then those are the people we will treat with influenza. Otherwise we just tell people to stay home and drink fluids and take tylenol and motrin," said Dr. Curtis.