Imagine you’re feeling intense chest pain and you decide to go to the nearest emergency room. It’s not where you would normally receive care, but time is of the essence, and you want to be seen immediately.
After your emergency room visit, the hospital where you were seen may refer you to their own care providers for follow-up care, instead of your usual doctor.
It’s important for you to know you have the right to ask for follow-up care with your personal physician, even if they work for an organization other than the one you visited for emergency care. Your own doctor knows you best, has your medical history and is aware of your unique needs as a patient.
Continuity of care matters
“It’s very important to follow up with your established physician,” said Dr. Juan Mesa, a Marshfield Clinic Health System cardiologist. “That physician-patient relationship is so critical to our ability as doctors to provide the best care. We need to know what’s going on with the health of our patients. It’s about continuity of care.”
Mesa said in the case of an emergency it makes sense to go to the nearest medical facility for timely treatment. But for long-term maintenance of your health, following up with a provider who knows you, and your medical history, is best.
After your emergency room visit, simply tell the emergency room care team you would like to follow up with your established doctor.
If you’re admitted to a hospital that is not part of the organization where your usual doctor practices, it’s still possible your provider has privileges to practice there. You have the right to ask for your provider to care for you if they do have privileges in that hospital.
Following up with your own doctor also is important because it’s possible that following up with a doctor in another organization is outside of your insurance network.