You’re sick, and you’ve been sick for about a week. You thought you were getting better, but now you’re worse, and you’re running a fever, have a stomachache, and have had diarrhea. Now it’s Friday night and you’re feeling weaker; you know you’ve probably waited too long to see a doctor.
If you were to Google your symptoms, which is probably not your best choice of action at this point, you will find a whole array of things that could be the cause. So, now your choices are sticking it out until Monday (that hasn’t worked for a week), finding an urgent care that is open after hours, or going to the emergency room.
There is one other choice, but only if you have a primary care doctor that is available on a Friday night. This situation, which happens all too often, is one of the many reasons to consider having a primary care doctor who is available 24 hours per day, 7 days per week.
Continuity and Trust
The whole point of having a primary care doctor is so that you have a relationship with someone that you know and trust. This is the one person that you can count on to know your medical history, your family history, the medications you take, what works and what doesn’t work for you, and what preferences you might have.
Of course, health promotion and disease prevention is a big part of primary care. Your doctor will make sure you have all the appropriate screening tests you need, as well as the immunizations that are recommended. He/She can advise you on how to live healthily and stay healthy.
However, everyone gets sick or has a health problem eventually. That’s when having a doctor that knows you is really a benefit. And lets face it–illness does not watch the clock. Symptoms can arise at any time of the day or night, and any day of the week. Being able to call your primary doctor during a time of crisis will insure that you will get the most efficient and appropriate care to meet your unique needs.
Acute Illness or Injury
An acute illness is one that has a sudden onset and is usually short in duration. For instance, the flu is considered an acute illness, while a broken arm is an acute injury. You can also have acute symptoms, such as wheezing, from a chronic illness like asthma. The bottom line is that “acute” is something that often happens that is not expected, but that needs to be addressed in a timely manner.
In the case of the flu, you can receive medication that may shorten the duration of the illness and lessen the symptoms, but only if you start the medication within a few days. Obviously, you can’t be diagnosed if you can’t get in to see your doctor. This is just one example of how having a doctor who is available 24/7 can go a long way in helping you feel better sooner and in preventing the complications that can be caused by delayed treatment.
Are you one of the many people who have a chronic illness? This is an illness that persists over an extended period of time. Illnesses are usually considered chronic if they last longer than three months. Some examples of chronic illnesses include diabetes, hypertension, asthma, and high blood pressure. If you have a primary care doctor, he/she should be fully aware of all of your chronic illnesses, how severe they may be, and how they are being treated.
The goal in the treatment of chronic illness is to control symptoms and prevent worsening of the condition. However, exacerbations, flairs, or complications can suddenly arise. If you see a doctor who is not familiar with your history, these symptoms can be mistaken for something else. Additionally, an unfamiliar doctor may order unnecessary or redundant tests, or treatments that may not be appropriate for your particular situation.
In short, if you have a chronic illness you can greatly benefit by having a primary care doctor who is available at any time. This can prevent unnecessary treatments or hospitalizations, as well as ensure that dangerous symptoms can be identified and treated before your condition worsens.
Medication problems, including mistakes, side effects, and drug interactions are a major cause of injury, hospitalization, and even death in this country. However, one of the best ways to prevent these problems is by accurate communication between you and your doctor. If you understand what medications you are taking, as well as how and why you are taking them, and your doctor has a complete and accurate list of your medications, your chances of adverse reactions are greatly reduced.
Unfortunately, when someone is ill, he/she is not always in the best position to remember and share accurate information. For instance, if you were to sprain your ankle, you would likely receive a prescription for pain medication. Some of these medications, called NSAIDs, can increase the risk of bleeding. Taking this type of medication with anticoagulants can be dangerous. However, in the distress of the moment, you may forget to tell the doctor if you are already taking an anticoagulant. In this case, having a primary care doctor who is available 24 hours per day may very well save your life.
Regardless of how much you are committed to living a healthy lifestyle, life can be unpredictable. In most cases, illness or injury occurs when you least expect it. While you know your own body, there are times when you may not be sure what to do when you don’t feel well or when you get hurt. That’s when it would be nice to consult with a doctor who knows you well.
There are just some things that should never be ignored: chest pain, shortness of breath, high fevers, fainting, strange changes in behavior, disorientation, bleeding, difficulty speaking or smiling, weakness, severe headaches, and dizziness, for example. By having a 24-hour physician available, you don’t have to worry or to guess. You have a trustworthy, knowledgeable, and informed resource available to you who will advise you in a timely manner, so that you always receive the most appropriate and comprehensive medical care for your unique situation.
At Rockville Concierge Doctors, being available to address your health concerns, when they occur, is our priority. If you have any questions regarding our 24-hour service and how it may help you, or about the benefits of concierge medicine, please call Rockville Concierge Doctors at (301) 545-1811 to request a free, no-obligation meet-and-greet, or request a meet-and-greet online.