Posted on June 23, 2022

ER, PCI Walk-In Care, or Your Primary Care Doctor?

young girl in soccer uniform getting injured ankle wrapped by her doctor

When you’re facing a situation that requires medical care, you may be wondering where you should go for treatment. Should you seek immediate attention at the emergency room or PCI Walk-In Care? Or should you make an appointment with your primary care doctor? 

In this guide we outline common situations that are most appropriate for each option to help patients get the care they need effectively and affordably.

When to Visit the Emergency Room

The emergency room should be the first choice in any situation involving acute or severe symptoms that are life-threatening or could lead to long-term damage. Though you might want immediate relief from a sore throat or small cut, the ER is not the right place for treatment. Some situations where you should visit the emergency room include:

  • Head injuries resulting in loss of consciousness or confusion
  • Spine or neck injuries accompanied by loss of feeling or movement
  • Choking or difficulty breathing
  • Signs of a stroke, including loss of vision or speech
  • Seizures
  • Severe chest pains or chest pressure
  • Severe burns, shocks, or wounds
  • Severe allergic reaction
  • Inhalation or ingestion of poisonous substances
  • Adverse medication reaction or drug overdose

The biggest downside of the emergency room is cost. According to data from insurance provider UnitedHealthcare, the average cost of an ER visit is $2,200. Whenever possible, consult with your primary care physician first and they can offer guidance on the best option to meet your needs. However, if you’re concerned your situation is life-threatening, always call 911 or visit the emergency room immediately. 

When to Visit PCI Walk-In Care

Generally, PCI Walk-In Care is best when you have non-life threatening issues, but still want treatment quickly. It’s convenient for busy parents, college students, workers who want to get back on the job faster, and anyone who doesn’t want to wait for an appointment. Common reasons to visit Walk-In Care include:

  • Sprains, strains, or general pain from an injury
  • Minor cuts and puncture wounds
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
  • Rashes and other skin reactions
  • Flu, severe cold, or high fever
  • Sinus or ear infections
  • Minor fractures

Typically, PCI Walk-In Care is utilized when your primary care provider is unavailable for an immediate appointment or you don’t have a regular physician. If you know the issue can wait a day or two, you’re better served by scheduling an appointment with your regular doctor.

When to Visit Your Primary Care Doctor

Whenever possible, your primary care doctor should be your go-to option for care. They offer numerous benefits like having an established relationship and understanding your health history to help diagnose issues quickly and accurately. On top of that, it’s likely the most affordable option. Most insurance providers only require a small copay versus the hundreds or thousands of dollars that a Walk-In Care or ER visit can cost.

Primary care doctors are there to help you manage your entire spectrum of healthcare needs. These are just a few of the many things they can assist you with:

  • Managing chronic conditions such as diabetes, depression or high blood pressure
  • Healthy ways to handle stress
  • Common ailments like back pain or respiratory infections
  • Referrals to specialists
  • Regular physical exams, sports physicals, or scheduled vaccinations
  • Preventative care
  • General questions about your health

Unless you’re concerned your situation is life-threatening, always turn to your primary care physician first. They’re invested in your health and are committed to helping you meet your healthcare goals.

Schedule an Appointment at Physicians’ Clinic of Iowa

If you have questions about your health or want to establish a relationship with a primary care provider, Physicians’ Clinic of Iowa is here for you. We’re the premier medical center in the Cedar Rapids area, and are ranked in the top 10% for patient satisfaction. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.