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When first confronted with an illness or injury, you must quickly decide whether the case is life threatening—whether there’s a risk of death or permanent disability if the patient does not receive immediate care (within 30 minutes or less).
The most difficult decisions involve cases in which you feel safe waiting 30 minutes or more to receive care, but still require treatment at a hospital, rather than at an urgent care clinic or doctor's office.
Many cases are not even urgent, of course. These cases could await a visit to an urgent care clinic or a family doctor during regular hours.
Take charge by selecting the best doctors and other providers and making decisions about your medical care. Here's how.
The most important thing you can do to assure yourself high-quality medical care is to form a strong relationship with a good primary care physician and, at times, together make informed decisions on specialty care.
We advise consumers to select physicians who are “board certified,” and we report on board certification status in our ratings tables. We describe here what board certification means and why it is important.