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An important first step in advocating for your health and the health of others is knowing where to go and who to contact in emergencies. Factors like wait times, policy rules, distance from facilities, costs, and cultural barriers can all affect whether people in need of medical care actually receive proper care. Below is a glossary identifying common types of healthcare terminology/facilities, when to use their services, a helpful downloadable info sheet, and links to our blog series with more in-depth information.

Where do I go for medical help?

DOCTOR/PRIMARY CARE PROVIDER

WHAT IS PRIMARY CARE?

  • Services that focus on people, not diseases
  • Services for prevention, health promotion, and rehabilitation throughout people’s lifetimes

WHAT IS A CLINIC?

  • An organized medical service offering diagnostic, therapeutic, or preventative outpatient services.
  • You’ll receive services from a doctor/primary care provider
  • Usually smaller than hospitals and people do not stay overnight

Read our blog about clinics >>

URGENT CARE

WHAT IS URGENT CARE?

  • Type of medical clinic that provides care for non-emergency medical issues requiring immediate care
  • You need same-day care, it’s not an emergency, but you shouldn’t wait to see your primary care provider

What should I do in a medical emergency?

HOSPITAL

WHAT IS A HOSPITAL?

  • For the treatment, both medical and surgical, of the sick and the injured; and for their housing during this process.

FACTORS TO CONSIDER DURING MEDICAL EMERGENCIES:

  • Are you near a hospital? Can you get there quickly?
  • Can I or the individual pay for an ambulance or is there another way I can be transported to a hospital’s emergency room?

Consider these questions, but use your best judgment, and when in doubt, dial 9-1-1

CALL 911

WHAT IS CONSIDERED A MEDICAL EMERGENCY?

  • If a person or unborn baby could die or be permanently disabled, the situation is considered a life-threatening medical emergency and you should call 911

DIAL 911 IF YOU OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW IS:

  • Choking
  • Has stopped breathing
  • Has a head injury from passing out
  • Fainting or confusion
  • Experienced electric shock or lightning strike
  • Has a severe burn
  • Severe chest pain or pressure or a seizure that lasted more than 1 minute or from which the person does not rapidly awaken
  • OR for other reasons listed in the hospital section.

Read our blog about medical emergencies >>

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