letters | patients’ choices for urgent care

No substitute in an emergency

URGENT CARE centers are an option for common medical problems, especially when a physician’s office is closed (“Urgent care centers in Mass. fill a gap,” Health & Wellness, Feb. 17). But they are not a substitute for emergency care, nor a solution for ER overcrowding.

The vast majority (92 percent) of emergency patients seek care appropriately, according to a Centers for Disease Control study. A recent RAND Corporation report also found that four in five people who contacted a primary care physician or other medical provider with an acute emergency were told to go directly to the ER.


We agree with Dr. Nathan MacDonald, head of the emergency department at Lowell General, that “we just want people to be careful.” Patients should not be expected to diagnose themselves. It sends a dangerous health message and puts them at great risk.

If you think you have the symptoms of a medical emergency, seek emergency care immediately.

Dr. Alex Rosenau

Allentown, Penn.

The writer is president, of the American College of Emergency Physicians.

Loading comments...
Real journalists. Real journalism. Subscribe to The Boston Globe today.
We hope you've enjoyed your free articles.
Continue reading by subscribing to Globe.com for just 99¢.
 Already a member? Log in Home
Subscriber Log In

We hope you've enjoyed your 5 free articles'

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com