When faced with an ache, pain or ailment, you usually don’t want to spend your time having to stop and think about which doctor you need to call. Should you call your primary care doctor? Should you look for a specialist? Where do you begin?
Here are a few tips that might make your decision a bit easier, but the bottom line is, your primary care provider is a good place to start. Here are some reasons why:
- If you have a new symptom or concern, you can call your primary care provider's office to best direct you.
- If you have a concern that you have already discussed with your primary care provider, you should call him or her first.
- If you are starting a new treatment prescribed by your primary care provider and you have questions about it, call him or her.
- If you have already seen a specialist but there are other concerns raised outside of that specialty, see your primary care provider. He or she has expertise to review the entire situation to help direct your care.
- If you have seen a specialist and the specialist has a plan and there are questions related to that, you can call the specialist.
Most primary care providers have teams in the office that can help advise patients on the best way to address a question or need. Additionally, with electronic medical records, primary care providers may also be able to relay your question to the right specialist when that's the best path.
And, as a reminder, for more serious injuries, the following is a good guide to follow:
Doctor’s Office: Go to the doctor for any health concern.
Urgent Care: Go to urgent care for minor sickness and injury.
Emergency: Call 911 or go to the nearest ER for life-threatening emergencies.
Pedro Cazabon, MD, also contributed to this post.