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The Be Well Podcast: Where To Go For Care - Aaron Arnold, MS, DO

Listen in or read from the partial transcript below as Aaron Arnold, MS, DO, discusses the different levels of care in medicine, why it's important to seek the correct level of care and more.

Joey Wahler (Host): If you need medical attention besides emergency rooms and doctor's offices, there are increasing numbers of urgent care facilities, and now virtual appointments are available. So we're discussing how to know where to seek care. This is Be Well with Skagit Regional health. Thanks for joining us. I'm Joey Wahler. Our guest, Dr. Aaron Arnold. He's a family medical physician at Skagit Regional Health. Dr. Arnold, thanks for joining us.

Dr. Aaron Arnold: Hi, wonderful to be here. Thank you for having me.

Joey Wahler (Host): So first, when needing medical attention in a nutshell, doctor, why is it so important that patients seek the right level of care and thus the proper facility?

Dr. Arnold Emergency Management

Dr. Aaron Arnold: That is a great question. The different facilities correlate to levels of care and intensity or need of care based on severity of illness. The techniques, tools at different locations compared to urgent care to in the hospital system and in the clinics all vary. The right location will have the right tools to fit basically the level of need based on the illness people are having.

Joey Wahler (Host): So we'll get to some of the differences between them in a moment. But first, if you have a medical issue and aren't sure which type of facility is best, what are a few guidelines you can offer based on your symptoms?

Dr. Aaron Arnold: So anybody experiencing any life-threatening symptoms of any signs of organ failure, chest pain being the most common one, those are usually an urgent care or more likely emergency room issue. Most of the life-threatening issues that people can walk through a door and can be evaluated first in urgent care, and then quickly assessed and then recommend for either followup, stay in urgent care or transfer over to the emergency room. If people, as a general rule of thumb, are questioning, "I think I should go to the ER, but I'm not sure," that's usually a good indication that the ER should be the first place to go.

Joey Wahler (Host): So if you're wondering yes or no on the ER, better safe than sorry.

Dr. Aaron Arnold: Absolutely.

Joey Wahler (Host): So besides chest pain that you mentioned, let's start with the emergency room, what are a few basic needs of people that bring them to the ER? And maybe give us one or two that people think necessitate the ER, when in fact it's usually not needed.

Dr. Aaron Arnold: So besides chest pain, severe shortness of breath, dizziness that people are maybe in threat of or danger of passing out, need to be evaluated in the emergency room. And our common findings for stroke, so change in speech, slurring of words, change in smiles, a drooping of the face, any weakness, people cannot lift up their arm or lift up their legs. Those are things that need to be evaluated in the emergency room right away, because time is of the essence.

Joey Wahler (Host): So are there a few common or somewhat common things that people show up at the ER for where they're sent elsewhere because they were mistaken and that's not the place for it?

Dr. Aaron Arnold: Probably, the clearest example would be a medication refill. If people are out of a medication, and they're not experiencing any severe symptoms or concern for any threat of life or limb, the ER is definitely not the place to go for that. Other kind of more common things that the ER can handle, but isn't necessarily the most appropriate place would be issues of a rash, a non-severe rash. Even if they are kind of full body, if people are not experiencing any other symptoms like elevated blood pressure, headaches, or fever, something like that can be evaluated at an urgent care.

To listen to the podcast or read the full transcript, visit  here.