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Emergencies and Surgeries: Know Where to Go

Not sure where to go for an immediate health problem or service? Here’s a guide to help you decide.

For Immediate Care—At Home or Away

1. Your primary care provider. A primary care provider is usually a doctor, but it can also be a physician assistant or nurse practitioner. Whenever you have a health concern, contact your primary care provider first. Your primary care provider knows your health history and keeps a record of it.

2. Urgent care centers. Urgent care centers are a convenient choice if you’ve got a minor injury or illness and you can’t wait to see your doctor. These include flu symptoms, strep throat, minor cuts and burns, and animal bites. 

Urgent care centers also:

  • Usually don’t require appointments

  • Are typically open longer than normal business hours

  • Typically provide faster, more affordable care compared with emergency rooms

3. Emergency rooms (ERs). When you have a life-threatening medical situation an emergency room is the best place to go. Emergency symptoms may include: 

  • Chest pain

  • Trouble breathing

  • Poisoning

  • Bleeding or vomiting that won’t stop

  • Head injuries with passing out or confusion

  • Major burns, cuts, or breaks.

For Treatment—Surgeries, Testing, and More

1. Ambulatory care centers. Ambulatory care centers provide a range of outpatient services, including diagnostic tests and surgery. Facilities that specialize in outpatient surgery are called ambulatory surgery centers. 

Surgery centers can be a less expensive alternative to a hospital if you need outpatient surgery.You can ask your doctor to recommend ambulatory surgery centers near you.


2. Inpatient hospital care. You may need to be admitted and stay overnight in a hospital at some point.  



© 2000-2018 The StayWell Company, LLC. 800 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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