Don’t Let Convenience Lead to Health Risks

There was a time when gas stations were located on almost every street corner of town – just like urgent care and “after hours” medical clinics seem to be today.

Motorists many years ago could assume the fuel available at one station was of the same quality as fuel at others, so it didn’t matter where you filled up. Convenience often drove decision-making.

When to choose convenience

Convenience sometimes leads people to think they no longer need to have a primary care physician (PCP) and a long-term, trusting doctor-patient relationship. It can start with how convenient – or not – a PCP’s office is to home or work. Another potential deciding factor: can I get an appointment at a convenient time for me, my child, or other family member?

At times, this is not as convenient as opting for walk-in clinics, where no appointments are necessary. And at times, it can make sense when your ailment or injury appears uncomplicated, such as checking a sore throat to see if you have strep.

Just don’t expect such clinics to take care of an ailment that persists or uncover a larger medical concern.

It is one thing to seek treatment from an unfamiliar doctor for recent non-emergency such as poison ivy or to see if a swollen ankle is sprained or broken. But, best to go to your PCP who has on file your complete medical history for anything more complex.

Your PCP is your health expert

Usually, a PCP can “squeeze you in” to her or his busy schedule or arrange for you see a qualified medical colleague in the office the same day. More often now, you can get expert guidance by phone from a PCP’s nurse to determine if what’s hurting you requires being seen immediately or can wait until it’s more convenient.

When gas stations were on almost every corner, they usually also had garages, where auto mechanics were conveniently available to check out your car and could perhaps determine what that “rattle” was in your engine or why the brakes were squealing.

Smart motorists didn’t go to just any mechanic. They went to a trusted favorite, one familiar with your car, one who maintained records showing what repairs, replacements and adjustments had been previously done. Someone you could trust that whatever you needed to be done now, it would be done right.

The healthcare version of that trusted mechanic? That’s your trusted PCP for something more important than your personal car – your personal health.

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