Medical Monday-When to go to the Emergency Room vs. Your Primary Care Physician

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When you’re sick, it’s hard enough to function, much less try and decide where to go to see a doctor. Pines Health Services is sending out pamphlets to help with Cary Medical Centers overcrowded emergency room.

"The ER is extremely busy. Every single bed I think even the hallways are full. Patients are in the waiting room that might be able to be seen here so we really can take away the wait time in the ER making it more convenient for the patient," said RN Practice Manager Libby Gardner.

To help with overcrowding, Pines health services is educating the community on when to see a primary care physician or head to the Emergency room.

"So we sent out five thousand mailers today to community members just stating the differences for where they should seek treatment," said Gardner.

The pamphlet includes when to see your primary care physician including sprains, sports injuries, and even getting a pregnancy test.

"The reason that we’re doing this is because we’ve seen an influx of patients going to the ER seeking treatment there rather than coming here to see a primary care provider. Seeing increase wait times, costs, those kinds of things when we’re readily available to help here," said Gardner.

But if you’re experiencing a symptom with more severity Gardner says you should be going to the emergency room.

"If someone is experiencing some chest pain, numbness on one side of the body, those are signs of a much more severe condition and they should seek expert advice in the emergency department," said Gardner.

Gardner also says you could be saving money if you see your primary doctor rather than heading to the ER.

"If you come to your primary care physician depending on the insurance that you have or copay. If you go to the emergency department you might have a copay that’s 5 times as high than coming to the office," said Gardner.

In order to encourage patients to come in to see their primary care physicians Gardner says the staff at pines health does their best to see their patients as soon as possible.

"We strive to be able to get our own patients in the very same day that they are calling with their needs. Although they may not see their own primary care provider we have a team of providers ready to help who have access to a patient's medical records making it a safe, smoother transition for the patient," said Gardner.

And when in doubt, call your physician to determine where you should go.