We’ve all been there. It’s 10:30 at night on a weekend and your child has a sinus infection that is making it impossible for them to sleep, or function, or do anything except cry. You know they just need a round of antibiotics, but this isn’t the kind of scenario that you want to wait until Monday when your pediatrician can see them. It’s not really an emergency, and not worth sitting in an emergency room waiting room for hours upon hours, exposing your baby to the contagious illnesses that are always waiting to be treated in the emergency room would be a huge bummer.
This situation is exactly why family urgent care clinics are popping up everywhere you turn. Family urgent care clinics are designed for when you need medical treatment within 24 hours, but your illness or injury does not warrant going to the emergency room. Most of the time, family urgent care clinics require a wait time of 15 minutes or less, and the bill that you walk out with is a fraction of what you’d have to pay at an emergency room.
While we’re on the subject, here are five interesting things that you didn’t know about family urgent care:
Three Things You Didn’t Know About Urgent Care Facilities
- You’ll Likely Receive Your Treatment From a Nurse Practitioner
There are approximately 10,000 urgent care facilities across the United States, with more popping up every year, and those 10,000 clinics employ about 20,000 physicians, so it’s possibly that you’d be treated by a physician during your urgent care visit. However, there are far more nurse practitioners and physicians assistants than physicians attending to the patients in urgent care facilities. This is beneficial to the patient because the cost of employing an urgent care nurse practitioner is less than employing a physician, which is one of the reasons that costs at an urgent care facility are lower than an emergency room.
Nurse practitioners and physician’s assistants have the education to diagnose and treat illnesses, and prescribe medications, just like a physician. You get the same care you’d get with a physician, just at a lower cost.
- Urgent Care Can Provide Treatment for Almost Any Non-emergency Situation
Emergency rooms have one job, and they do them well. To treat life-threatening illnesses and injuries. When you are experiencing heart attack or stroke symptoms, the emergency room is the best place to go. When you are bleed profusely, the emergency room is where you need to go. When you have a compound fracture (a bone protruding from your body), head to the emergency room. When you have a head or neck injury, the emergency room is the best place to be.
However, for non-emergency medical care, your local emergency centers might be able to treat it, but it’s not what it’s designed for. Your urgent care is designed to treat those issues, even issues that your primary care doctor cannot treat. If you need intravenous fluids, your local urgent care give it to you. When you need x-rays and fracture care (short of a compound fracture), your urgent care can treat it. When you need lab work or a simple prescription, your local urgent care can fix you up.
Meanwhile, urgent care can also treat you during hours that your regular physician cannot. When you need care on a weekend or evening, you don’t have to wait in misery until the next business day to get in. Most urgent care facilities are open on nights and weekends.
- Urgent Care Does Not Replace Your Primary Doctor
Urgent care fills a vital role in our medical infrastructure, but it is not a replacement for either your doctor or the emergency room. Your doctor has the best understanding of your medical history and ongoing treatments. If your medical need pertains to an ongoing treatment that your doctor has you on, it’s best to take it to your primary care doctor. When you need annual checkups, take it to your primary care doctor.
The urgent care is there for your when your medical need should be treated before you can get in with your doctor. They don’t replace each other, they add on to each other to provide you with complete coverage.
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