It is Saturday afternoon and your child hurt their ankle sliding into home plate, what do you do? The pediatrician’s office is not open on Saturdays but a trip to the emergency room sounds long and painful. Luckily, you do have other options available to you. Medical urgent care clinics are open in most areas, They have hours on the weekend and after work. If you find that your child needs care for something that you know is not life threatening, a walk in clinic may be a better option.
1. They take insurance. You should check with your health insurance carriers but most cover trips to a medical urgent care clinic and even encourage this over trips to the emergency room. They often have copayments that are much less than when you go to the emergency room. When you call your health insurance provider, they can also get you information on the medical urgent care clinics in your area.
It is much cheaper to go to an urgent care for kids center. When you get medical treatment at an emergency room, you are getting the most expensive care available. This is one of the reasons treatment at urgent medical care centers is covered by most insurance carriers. This is a cost effective way to provide medical care.
2. They are open longer and on more days. Your pediatrician’s office is probably not open after 6:00 pm (though some are) or on the weekend. Most urgent care centers are open on the weekends. More than 90% are open after 7:00 pm and just about half are open until 9:00 pm or later. You should check the schedule of the medical urgent care clinic before you go but most should be open on a Saturday afternoon, for example.
3. The wait will be much shorter. When you go to the emergency room, you have to wait a long time. That is because you have to wait for more urgent problems to be dealt with. They have ambulances coming in all of the time. The wait time in an urgent care center is going to be much shorter. Nearly 60% of patients at urgent care centers are seen in under 15 minutes, according to the The Urgent Care Association of America. They also report that people are generally in and out in under and hour. The same cannot be said any emergency room. Some centers let you “book” an appointment online and in advance. This makes your wait time even shorter.
4. A visit to the local medical urgent care center is much less scary. Emergency rooms are scary places. They are busy and stressful. You have ambulances coming and going. You do not have any of that at an urgent medical care center. This will make the experience of getting medical treatment much less frightening than going to an emergency room.
5. They treat a lot more than you might think. The most common thing that people are treated for in urgent care centers is an upper respiratory infection but they also treat sprains, strains and other injuries, coughs, stomach problems such as nausea and vomiting and other common problems. Nearly 80% of all urgent care clinics in the United States have x-ray machines. Nearly 70% of medical urgent care centers can provide patients with intravenous fluids if that is what is needed.
There are times when a visit with the hospital emergency room is the thing that is needed. Head injuries, seizures, complicated fractures are all problems that require a trip to the emergency room rather than the urgent care clinic. The very good news is that if you take your child to the urgent care clinic, the medical professionals there will evaluate them and let you know if they think you need more care than they can provide.
Having a good pediatrician who sees your child regularly and knows them well is the best way to approach their healthcare needs but there may be times when that person is not available and urgent care clinics can help.