Published: Oct. 19, 2007
Updated: July 27, 2010
Where should you go for medical care? Use this guide for suggestions.
When accidents, incidents, and illnesses arise, finding the best type of health care provider for your needs can be tricky.
If you sprain your ankle during a weekend soccer game, should you go to the emergency room? Can your primary care physician treat accidental poisoning? And what exactly is an urgent care center?
Duke University Health System offers a broad range of treatment facilities to accommodate your needs 24 hours a day, seven days a week. But to receive the best possible care, you need to make sure you’re in the right place.
So -- when you need medical help, where should you go?
Unless you are experiencing a life-threatening emergency, primary care centers are the best places to start.
What: Primary care providers are physicians who deliver basic care for common illnesses. They are your first stop for most undiagnosed health concerns.
When to go: You should visit a primary care center for illnesses such as colds, flu, and sore throats; minor injuries, aches, and pains; or routine health exams.
If your primary care physician is not available and you need quick medical attention for a non-life-threatening problem, visit an urgent care center.
What: Urgent care centers have similar resources to primary care facilities, but they provide comprehensive quality care on a walk-in basis with extended hours.
When to go: Go to an urgent care center when you need immediate medical attention or have non-emergency health concerns after hours. Examples include ear infections, sprains, simple cuts and burns, and eye injuries.
Duke Urgent Care is open seven days a week, 365 days a year, from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. in four of our five locations, and 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. at the South Durham location. Just walk in -- no appointments are needed.
Life-threatening emergencies and late-night trauma require an immediate visit to the hospital.
What: Emergency rooms offer inpatient care, emergency services, trauma services, and more. Emergency clinicians are able to recognize, diagnose, and make recommendations for a wide array of medical issues.
When to go: Call 911 or drive to the emergency department at your nearest hospital whenever conditions cause severe symptoms and/or put your health at serious risk. Examples include heart attacks, poisoning, severe bleeding, and broken bones.
Duke Emergency Services are also available late-night for non-life-threatening problems. Emergency departments at Duke hospitals are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.