There are a lot of advantages to going to a medical walk-in clinic or getting urgent care services when you have a medical need. Read on to learn all about urgent care services.
What Are Urgent Care Services?
These are a type of medical walk in clinic staffed by physicians and other medical professionals that help people who have an acute injury or illness and need medical attention right away. They are not able to offer the same kind of care for life-threatening emergencies that an ER is able to offer, but they are not designed to. They are designed to offer fast, effective help for people who need immediate attention for non-life threatening medical needs. Urgent care services are different from retail clinics, as these can only treat common illnesses that are not acute, such as colds and minor cases of the flu.
What Are the Advantages of Urgent Care Services?
Urgent care facilities have a lot of advantages when compared either to the ER or to your local doctor’s office.
- No need for an appointment; or a long wait. Unlike a private doctor’s office, there is no need to book an appointment in advance with an urgent care facility. They are sometimes referred to as a walk in health clinic for a reason. This is a great advantage if a medical need arises outside of office hours, or if the doctor’s office is booked. But you also won’t be spending the kind of waiting time there that you would if you went to the emergency room. Between 2003 and 2009, the mean waiting time for the nation’s emergency rooms when from 46.5 minutes to 58.1 minutes. The majority of patients to urgent care facilities are seen in 15 minutes or less.
- The hours are more flexible than a doctor’s office If your doctor’s office is closed and you need medical help, it may seem like the ER is the only option. In reality, many urgent care services are available before work and after work hours on weekdays, and at sometimes on the weekends.
- You’ll pay less at an urgent care center The cost is usually about the same as a doctor’s visit and considerably less than going to the hospital’s ER. Co-pays for insurance are also usually lower than for the ER. The mean national cost of visiting the ER is $1,318, according to the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey. The mean cost of getting care at a clinic is $615.
What Are the Disadvantages of Urgent Care Services?
While there are a lot of good reasons to go to urgent care, there are some disadvantages to bear in mind.
- They cannot provide life-saving care. The main thing to bear in mind is that you should not get urgent care services for a medical issue that is immediately life-threatening or which obviously requires surgery, such as a suspected heart attack or stroke, sudden onset of seizures, injury to the spine, or severe bone breaks, burns, or cuts.
- You won’t see the same doctor every time. Urgent care clinics are meant to bridge the gap between doctor’s offices and emergency rooms, not to be a replacement for either. Your personal doctor will know you and your medical history very well, but you won’t always see the same doctor at the urgent care clinic. This makes it important to clearly explain your medical history to the professionals at urgent care facilities, and to remember accurately all the medications that you’re taking.
- There may not be one near you. Urgent care clinics are popping up everywhere, and more are being built every year in America. However, not every community yet has one. Your doctor or the local hospital will be able to tell you what has opened in your area.
Urgent care services are bridging the important gap between the invaluable services of a personal, private doctor and the life-saving emergency expertise of a hospital ER. Find out where the walk in clinics are in your area and consider them the next time you have a medical need.