Health & Safety

December 14, 2012

The Doctor Is In – Urgent or Emergency?

by Brig. Gen. W. Bryan Gamble, M.D.
TRICARE Activities health news

If you or your child gets sick or injured, your first instinct is to go to the emergency room (ER) right away or call 911. These are good instincts in an emergency, but many people use the ER when it is not an actual emergency. This contributes to long ER wait times, high costs, and unnecessary medical care. Sometimes, using an urgent care clinic may be your best choice, and can help responsibly preserve the TRICARE benefit for future generations of military families.

It can be difficult to know whether an illness or injury is really an emergency, but the judgment is yours to make. If the condition is obviously life threatening, or causing severe pain and distress, then the need for an emergency room is clear. TRICARE views an emergency as a medical, maternity or psychiatric condition you believe could threaten your life, limb or sight without immediate medical attention. Other emergencies include severe, painful symptoms requiring immediate attention, or when a person may be an immediate risk to themselves or others.

If you or a family member experience any of the following symptoms, go to the ER immediately:

  • Chest pain or pressure
  • Uncontrolled bleeding
  • Sudden or severe pain
  • Coughing or vomiting blood
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Sudden dizziness, weakness, or changes in vision
  • Severe or persistent vomiting or diarrhea
  • Changes in mental status, such as confusion

You do not need authorization for emergency care before receiving treatment. However, if you’re enrolled in a TRICARE Prime plan you must contact your primary care manager or regional health care contractor within 24 hours or the next business day after you receive emergency care.

Urgent care is when an illness or injury is serious enough to seek health care right away, but not so severe as to require emergency room care. Some examples include earache, toothache, joint sprain, muscle pull or urinary tract infection. You can get urgent care from your primary care manager (PCM), or from an urgent care center if your PCM is inaccessible. Urgent care can be quicker, with a lower cost and better results, compared to a crowded ER that may require unnecessary tests or hospital stays.

Many urgent care centers are open after normal business hours and on the weekend, so you can go at a time that fits with your schedule, or when a health problem warrants. If you have TRICARE Prime, you need to get prior authorization from your PCM or your regional contractor to avoid additional costs for visiting an urgent care center. If you are traveling, you need to contact your home region for authorization. You can find contact information for your regional contactor at www.tricare.mil/contacts.

According to the Urgent Care Association of America, 57 percent of visits to an urgent care facility have a wait time of 15 minutes or less. By comparison, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report only 22 percent of visits to an emergency room have wait times of 15 minutes or less.

Getting urgent care instead of visiting the ER can also save money. Emergency rooms are required to run expensive diagnostic tests that may not be necessary if your condition is less serious. Being judicious with your healthcare spending can make your household budget go further and cost efficient urgent care will help protect your TRICARE benefits in these uncertain financial times.

It’s a good idea to be aware of nearby urgent care facilities in the TRICARE network, just as you would with the closest emergency room. To find an urgent care facility near you in the TRICARE network, visit www.tricare.mil/mybenefit/home/Medical/FindingAProvider and select the search tool for your regional contractor.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
Untitled-1

Seven little known facts about Memorial Day

As Americans get ready to observe Memorial Day with travel, family get-togethers and celebrations, let us not forget—it’s not about the BBQ. Memorial Day is observed specifically to remember those who gave the ultimate sacr...
 
 

Increased mission requirements open doors for continued military service

WASHINGTON (AFNS) — The Air Force is introducing several personnel and manpower initiatives to meet increased mission requirements outlined in the fiscal year 2016 President’s Budget. In order to enhance operational and mission capacity in support of combatant commanders, and to maintain readiness, the Air Force is setting a minimum active-duty force level of 317,000...
 
 
Natl-Better-Hearing-and-Speech-Month

Knowing signs of hearing loss, speech disorder are vital to well-being

May is Better Hearing and Speech Month, where we seek to raise awareness about communication disorders and learning how to recognize their signs. Below are things you should know, from the American Speech and Language Hearing A...
 

 

Quarterly Awards: best of the best highlighted

Airman of the Quarter: Senior Airman Dominique Acuna, integrated flight control specialist, 452nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron.   NCO of the Quarter: Tech. Sgt. Ruben Davis, mental health craftsman, 752nd Medical Squadron.   SNCO of the Quarter: Master Sgt. Christopher Jugas, non-commissioned officer in charge of training, 452nd Security Forces Squadron.
 
 
DoD
AFN photo/Charlie Gill

Robert Sekula, man of many hats

AFN photo/Charlie Gill Robert Sekula, a broadcast journalist/producer working at the American Forces Network Broadcast Center, one of March Air Reserve Base’s mission partners, wears many hats. Robert Sekula’s ever-present ...
 
 
U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Kevin Mitterholzer

Recruits swear in at Military Appreciation Night

U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Kevin Mitterholzer Lt. Col. Erin Meinders, commander, 362nd Recruiting Squadron, swears in 13 new recruits to the Air Force Reserve, during the Inland Empire 66ers Military Appreciation Night ...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin