Urgent Care vs. Primary Care: What's the Difference?

Many people are confused about differentiating when to visit an urgent care center or a primary care physician’s office. The best way to determine this is to start by defining each of their services.

“Which one should I go to?” 

Think of urgent care centers as a convenient option for timely treatment of non-emergent medical issues when your primary physician is unavailable due to late hours, holidays and weekends. Emergency room visits should be reserved for those who are severely ill. For example, if you sprain your ankle after dinner and would like to get treated that same night, you would go to an urgent care center instead of visiting an emergency room or waiting to see your primary physician. Urgent care centers are also great if you are feeling sick and want to stop by without making an appointment.

Small changes in your state of health and treatment of lifelong complications can be best observed at your primary care physician’s office. While urgent care centers play an important role in your health, they are not a substitute for a regular physician because they cannot replace the relationship you have built up over the years with your physician.

Urgent care centers and primary care centers are similar in their treatments and services, but there are quite a few differences between the two types of facilities:

Wait times

Sitting in a waiting room for long periods of time at a doctor’s office can be agonizing. At urgent care centers, the wait times are generally shorter. Urgent care centers are different than doctor’s offices in this manner because they pride themselves in providing quick service with no appointments.

Hours of Operation

Urgent care centers have extended hours, weekend hours and are open on most holidays. This is a convenience that primary care offices do not typically provide. If you are feeling sick on a Friday evening and would like to be treated and feeling better by work on Monday morning, visit an urgent care clinic. If you are experiencing symptoms related to a chronic disease, then it might be best to follow-up with your primary care physician to monitor and treat your symptoms.

Services

Urgent care, also known as immediate care, can provide minor emergency services that primary care offices cannot, but both types of facilities treat many of the same medical issues such as:

  • sprains, cuts, minor infections, rashes, minor broken bones, x-rays, laboratory tests, UTI’s, ear and eye infections, sports physicals, allergies and asthma, flu shots, TB shots, bug bites and more

Visiting an urgent care clinic cannot replace the ongoing care your primary physician provides, but it is an excellent supplement for convenient care. 


Patient Plus Urgent Care – Get in, Get better.

When you are sick or injured, whether it is routine or urgent, quality medical care should be easy to find and available when you need it. That’s the idea behind Patient Plus Urgent Carewith two locations in Mid City and Bocage.

Patient Plus treats most common illnesses and injuries — the sniffles, rashes, fevers, aches, breaks and other conditions that deserve prompt treatment, but are not serious enough to require a trip to the nearest emergency room. The clinics provide complete diagnostic services, including X-rays, EKGs and flu and strep tests. Other services include physicals, vaccinations and more. Patient Plus clinics are open every day from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., and patients never need to call first or make an appointment.