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How Does an STD Physical Exam in an Emergency Room Work?
Contracting a sexually transmitted disease is a serious matter, so many people wonder if an emergency room offers STD testing. At our freestanding emergency department, we offer STD testing. As an emergency room, we will see the patient as soon as we are able to. We understand that experiencing the symptoms of an STD can be uncomfortable, painful, and embarrassing. Thus, we can help provide the immediate treatment patients need after conducting an STD physical exam.
What to expect from emergency room STD testing
STD testing in an emergency room looks more or less the same as it does at a primary care physician’s office. The patient can expect to undergo a physical examination, during which the doctor will inquire into and investigate any symptoms. Though knowledgeable physicians may be able to diagnose some STDs with a visual inspection, most emergency rooms require patients to submit to a blood or urine test to make an accurate diagnosis. The center will then send the samples to a lab for analysis, which will, in turn, deliver the results within a few days.
Treatment depends on the nature and extent of a disease. In some cases, the emergency room may be able to write a prescription for antibiotics or antiviral medication. If the STD has progressed beyond what can be treated with a prescription, the center may have to refer the patient to a primary care doctor.
Why patients choose to undergo STD testing in an emergency room
There are a few different reasons why a patient may choose to undergo STD testing at an emergency clinic rather than through the family doctor. The first and most obvious is the discretion that emergency rooms provide. The doctors at clinics are generally not familiar with a patient or the patient’s family. Such unfamiliarity often helps individuals feel more comfortable with an issue as stigmatized as many STDs are.
Another reason people elect to visit emergency rooms for STD testing is their accessibility. Emergency rooms are often open 24 hours and accept same-day and walk-in appointments. Primary care doctors can have waiting times as long as a month or more. Individuals who know or suspect they live with a sexually transmitted disease will often not want to — or cannot afford to — wait several weeks for diagnosis or treatment.
Moreover, the services that emergency rooms provide are not cost-prohibitive. Many individuals who use the services of these centers are often young and either uninsured or without a steady income. From a financial standpoint, tests offered by emergency rooms may be more accessible than those at a doctor's office’s lab.
Finally, emergency rooms often receive results back far more quickly than traditional practices. Sexual health is a major focus of many clinics, and many have labs or lab techs that focus exclusively on running STD tests.
Patients who experience the symptoms of an STD should undergo testing immediately, as the sooner a diagnosis is made, the sooner the patient can begin treatment. Early treatment can be key to preventing dangerous or life-long complications. Where you choose to get tested does not matter, so long as you make the decision to get tested.
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