Primary, Urgent, or Emergency Care? When and How to Make the Call


With today’s many options for healthcare, it’s not always easy to determine the best course of action when you or your child is sick or hurt. When should you make an appointment with your doctor? How “urgent” is urgent care? Is it time to go to the emergency room? Here are some tips that should help you decide.

Visit your Primary Care Physician for:

  • High Blood Pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Arthritis/Joint Pain
  • Anxiety/Depression
  • Fatigue/Unexplained
  • Weight Loss or Gain
  • Back Pain
  • Acid Reflux
  • Management of All Chronic Diseases
  • Difficulty Sleeping
  • Constipation
  • Disease Screening (Cholesterol, Diabetes, etc.)
  • Physicals or Yearly Check-ups
  • Medication Refills
  • All Other Injuries and Illnesses Listed Under Urgent Care

Visit your PCP or an Urgent Care facility for:

  • Cold/Cough/Flu/Sinus/Fever
  • Sore Throat/Strep Throat
  • Ear Pain or Infection
  • Eye Irritation or Pink Eye
  • Urinary Tract Infection
  • Minor Lacerations
  • Abscess/Insect and Animal Bites
  • Rashes and Minor Burns
  • Sprains, Strains, and Possible Closed Fractures (No Open Wound)
  • Minor Head Injury
  • Nausea, Vomiting, and Diarrhea
  • Mild Abdominal Pain
  • Mild Asthma Attack
  • Migraine or Mild Headache
  • Allergic Reactions or Allergies

Visit the Emergency Room for:

  • Chest Pain
  • Shortness of Breath or a Severe Asthma Attack
  • Heart Palpitations
  • Loss of Consciousness or Fainting
  • Uncontrollable Bleeding
  • Broken Bone (with Deformity or Open Wound)
  • Seizures
  • Severe Abdominal Pain
  • Severe Headache
  • Weakness, Slurred Speech, or Confusion
  • Major Head Injuries
  • Severe Burns
  • Severe Pain
  • Suicidal or Homicidal Thoughts
  • Loss of Eyesight

Your primary care provider (PCP) should be your first choice for acute and chronic illnesses because he or she is familiar with your medical history. Many primary care offices and health centers in the Baton Rouge area offer same-day appointments during regular office hours. Some even offer extended hours to accommodate patients’ busy schedules. Check with your PCP to see if he or she offers the same.

Outside of regular or extended office hours, the same acute, non-life threatening illnesses or injuries that you may normally go to your PCP for can be treated at an urgent care facility. Hours of operation vary, but no appointment is necessary and the wait is typically less than an hour. 
 
A visit to the emergency room is warranted only for potentially life-threatening illnesses and injuries. Wait times for non-life threatening conditions could exceed an hour or more in the emergency room. 

Ochsner On Call provides a free resource for patients who are trying to determine who to call for care. Specially trained registered nurses are available to help you decide if your symptoms require going to an emergency room or urgent care clinic or scheduling an appointment with a primary care physician. This service is free and available by calling (800) 231-5257 or (504) 842-3155. You can also call Lakeline Direct, a service provided by Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center at (225) 756-5253 or (877) 765-5253 to receive answers to your health questions from registered nurses, 24 hours a day. Your health insurance company or other local health care institution may offer something similar. ■

Be the first to review this item!


Bookmark this

01 Dec 2017


By Dr. Lija Thomas

Recent Articles more articles

Parkview’s Junior Beta Club Wins at Convention

in Sponsored Content

The Junior Beta Club from Parkview Baptist School won multiple awards at this year’s convention. Over 250 Junior Beta Clubs from across Louisiana gathered in Lafayette at the Cajundome for various competitions in early February. Twenty-seven members

Rare Disease Awareness Day is February 29, 2020

in Health and Wellness, Family Life, Local News

Rare Disease Awareness Day is February 29, 2020, and founder of nonprofit Garage 10, Ashley Gravois, will be selling wristbands to raise awareness and funds. Each bracelet will be sold with details about the organization and statistics on rare disea

Rolling with the Good Times: Navigating Baton Rouge’s Mardi Gras with Kids

in Things To Do, Ellen Mecholsky

When my husband and I moved to Baton Rouge, we had absolutely no idea about Mardi Gras. I mean, sure, we had heard of “Fat Tuesday” and had the vague sense that beads were involved, but the Louisiana Mardi Gras EXPERIENCE was a complete unknown. That

Valentine’s Day: The Holiday I Love to Hate

in Holidays, Family Life, Amy Delaney

When ranking the best holidays, Valentine’s Day has always been near the very bottom for me. My love/hate relationship with this lovely holiday began way back in high school. I was never the girl with lots of admirers, so I remember the flowers, cand

Featured Listings more listings

St. Thomas More Catholic School

in Private Schools

Saint Thomas More Catholic School is committed to continuing a legacy of excellence in religious and academic education in a nurturing environment that fosters self-discipline.

Newsletter