Knowing when you should go to the ER, urgent care or primary care doctor

Going to the right facility can save you time and money

Accidents and illnesses happen frequently but sometimes, you may not know where you need to go to get help.

You typically have three category options for finding care — your primary care physician, an urgent care facility or an emergency room.

Chief Medical Officer at Christus Children’s, Doctor Norm Christopher spoke with KSAT and explained some incidents and where you should go for them.

Primary Care Physician

PCPs are best suited for preventative health and non-life-threatening illnesses.

  • Seasonal allergies
  • Chronic illnesses
  • Something that has already been diagnosed

Urgent Care

“The purpose of urgent care is to fill that gap between the primary care office and the emergency department,” Christopher said.

  • COVID-19, flu or strep symptoms
  • Suspected break or fracture
  • Concussion

Emergency Room

It’s best to go to an emergency room when your injuries or illness is life-threatening.

  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • An open or deformed wound
  • RSV in babies

“I always err on the side of caution with younger babies, or in children or family members that have underlying conditions,” said Christopher.

Knowing where to go is important. One for your money and also for your time.

If your illness or injury isn’t as serious as others in the ER that day, your wait could be a long one.

“If you’ve got 20 patients in line and you’re number 20, your ability to move up to 3 in that line really depends on a whole lot of different things,” said Christopher.

If you are ever in a bind, you can also call your insurance and see what coverage you would get if you went to each location.

About the Author:

Halee Powers is a KSAT producer primarily focused on digital newscasts and events.