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Texas Family Medicine August 2022 Blog

Dr. Brian Byrd

At least once in your life, you probably have needed a physician on the weekend or after your doctor’s office has closed.

What should you do in that situation? Go to the ER? Go to an urgent care clinic? Call us at Texas Family Medicine?

This month’s blog will give you some pointers that’ll help you get taken care of and save you some money.

What should you do when you get sick after hours or on the weekend?

When it comes to choosing healthcare, we have a lot of options for when we sprain an ankle or get a sinus infection.

There are acute care clinics like CareNow or SurePoint on just about every commercial corner.

Hospital emergency rooms take anyone who walks in the door. A quick search shows that there are 14 emergency rooms or emergency clinics just in SouthWest Fort Worth.

So, which option should you choose?

If it isn’t an emergency, call your doctor, even after hours and weekends

Broken down by cost, the ER is far and away the most expensive option. In Tarrant County, urgent care visits usually run about 25% of an ER visit for treatment of the same ailment!

That’s remarkable. And you, the patient, picks up a significant portion of the added ER cost.

For example, if you sprain your ankle and go to the ER, after charges for the likely xray you and your insurance will split a bill for about $400. If you go to the urgent care clinic, however, it will cost you about $100.

The top four ailments that create unnecessary visits to emergency rooms are ankle sprains, bladder infections, back pain, and upper respiratory infections. None of these require the cost and setup of emergency services.

But there is good news for you. The least expensive way for you to get taken care of is to call your doctor who can probably take care of you over the phone or via a telehealth (audio/video) visit.

During after hours and weekends, what ailments can your physician take care of over the phone?

For starters, any kind of infection that is not serious: bladder infection, sinusitis, ear (otitis media or otitis externa), for example. It is quick and easy for your physician to call in an antibiotic and see you in the office the next day, if necessary.

Here are a few others:

· Minor and common orthopedic injuries like a knee or shoulder sprain.

· Back strain or pain

· Fever

· Nausea and vomiting from food poisoning

· Mild shortness of breath

· Questions about taking a medication or other treatment that can’t wait until the clinic opens.

Your doctor may connect with you over a video call in which case you will get billed for the visit, but it will cost less than an urgent care visit and much less than the ER.

When should you go to the Urgent Care clinic?

Although your doctor can handle most issues over the phone, you will need to go urgent care if you cut yourself and need stitches. Otherwise, call one of us physicians after hours and we will get you taken care of.

When should you go to the ER?

Reserve the ER for emergencies such as:

· Uncontrolled bleeding

· Sudden numbness or weakness

· Critical injuries

· Loss of consciousness

· Shortness of breath

· Chest Pain

Although you have lots of options, it is important to choose the one that will get you taken care of for the least amount of money, time, and headache. Calling your doctor’s office - even after hours and weekends - is the best way to ensure the best course of action.

Of course, if you have an emergency, go straight to the ER. No need to call us first.

Dr. Brian Byrd

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