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Secure Messaging: What is the Difference Between Non-Urgent and Urgent?

If you are a Veteran who gets care at a VA facility, you may be able to use Secure Messaging. Secure Messaging is an online way you can communicate with your health care team. When you use Secure Messaging to speak with a member of your health care team you will see the following message:

Attention

This message system should be only used for non-urgent, non-critical communication!
Please direct any urgent or critical concerns to your provider's office via telephone or in-person.

What does this mean for you? Understanding the difference between non-urgent and urgent gives you the know-how for safely seeking information or care. It can also ensure that you receive the right care at the right time. Secure messaging is not a hot line for health problems. It should not be used if you need immediate care. Secure messaging should not be used as an extension of the emergency room. Secure messaging is for routine questions you may have for members of your health care team.

Non-Urgent Messages

male Doctor at computer with records in handNon-urgent are routine messages that do not require immediate attention. In most cases, these are messages that can wait to be answered. This is similar to a routine visit to your primary care clinic.

Some examples of a Non-Urgent concerns include:

  • Asking about an appointment

  • Renewing your medications

  • Asking about your medications

  • Lab-test results

  • Message to the clinic staff

  • Question to your health care team

Urgent Messages

Woman calling her doctorUrgent is something serious, which may need immediate medical attention. In most cases, urgent health concerns are considered serious and require emergency care. If not treated immediately they could result in disability or death. Urgent or emergency health concerns should not be addressed through Secure Messaging.

Some examples of Urgent medical concerns include:

  • Bleeding

  • Infection

  • Fever

  • Spinal cord or back injury

  • Broken bone

  • Trouble breathing

  • Chest pain

If you are away from home and cannot wait until you see your health care provider for treatment, you need to go to the closest VA Clinic, Urgent Care or emergency room. If you have trouble breathing or have chest pain it is recommended you call 911 for immediate help. Do not use Secure Messaging in place of seeking medical care.