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Urgent Care Vs. Primary Care

Urgent Care Vs. Primary Care

Should you visit an urgent care center or wait to see your primary care provider? It is a common question, and the answer depends on what you're experiencing. We want to provide you with the necessary information to assist in making the best option for medical care the next time you're feeling under the weather, or you suffer an injury.

The Differences Between Urgent Care and Primary Care

A primary care provider, also known as a PCP, is your main provider and typically the first point of contact for your healthcare needs. Your primary care provider knows your medical history, current conditions, and medications. Thus, they are equipped to manage your ongoing medical needs, which includes referring you to specialists when necessary.

Urgent care centers offer speed and convenience, with no appointment necessary, compared to the need for a prior appointment when visiting a primary care office. The convenience of urgent care can come at a cost, though, especially if you are visiting from out-of-town.

When to Visit a Primary Care Provider

Your primary care provider is the go-to doctor for your healthcare needs and is prepared to manage your continuous requirements.

Primary Care Is Best Suited for:

  • Periodic health assessments, checkups & screenings
  • Care for chronic conditions
  • Headaches
  • Minor injuries
  • Pain
  • Respiratory infections
  • Rashes
  • Referrals to specialists
  • Sick visits for earaches, sore throat, cough, congestion, cold & flu symptoms
  • Urinary infections
  • Vaccinations

When to Visit Urgent Care

An urgent care provider is an intermediary between your primary care office and an emergency room. They are there to treat time-sensitive medical needs but are not intended to support your medical needs long-term.

Urgent Care Can Typically Treat:

  • Allergic reactions
  • Cuts & lacerations
  • Diarrhea, vomiting & dehydration
  • Ear & eye infections
  • Fevers
  • Mild breathing issues
  • Respiratory infections
  • Sprains, strains & fractures
  • Sick visits for earaches, sore throat, cough, congestion, colds & flu
  • Urinary infections

Urgent Cares are convenient and typically do not require an appointment. Urgent care may be the best option for you if you have a non-life-threatening emergency but still require care within the next 24 hours. However, for established primary care patients at St. John’s Health, we strive to offer same-day appointment availability for acute care.

If you are experiencing more life-threatening symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, chest pain, loss of consciousness, or severe bleeding, you need immediate medical attention. Call 911 or head to the closest emergency room.

Learn more about when you need to visit an emergency room.

Let Us Help You

Whether you need primary care or urgent care services, St. John’s Health is here for your family. Contact one of our offices today.