There can be a lot of confusion about what an urgent care facility is. For this reason many people tend to overlook it as a viable option when seeking care for an injury or illness. However, going to an urgent care facility can be a better alternative than heading to an emergency room, in the event that an injury or illness is not life threatening.
Urgent Care Vs. Emergency Room
An urgent care facility can provide treatment for when your standard physician’s office is closed, or otherwise unavailable, it can also be more convenient if your doctors office is further away than the nearest urgent care center. Whereas an emergency room can provide the same treatment, you may face a longer wait time, as many hospitals prioritize treatment by severity. Additionally, emergency room costs can greatly exceed those of an urgent care facility, so unless the issue needs immediate medical intervention, you may be better off heading to an urgent care facility.
What Urgent care Facilities Treat
To help clarify, and give you a better understanding of what exactly a facility can treat, here are a few of the more common issues that these care centers handle.
- Minor fractures, sprains, and wounds that may require stitches.
- Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea.
- Cold, flu symptoms, cough, or sore throat.
- Fever. (Though if the fever is present in an infant or younger child, the ER may be more appropriate.)
- Back pain or minor headaches.
- Animal bites.
- Allergies and minor allergic reactions.
- X-rays, vaccinations, blood work, and basic lab work.
- Rashes and minor degree burns.
- Eye irritation, foreign objects in eyes/nose.
- Ear or sinus pressure pain.
- Mild asthma issues
Additional services may be available at specific clinics in around you area; however, these are the most commonly found services that will be accessible at most urgent care facilities.
Even after reading what many centers cover, you may still have doubts. Emergency rooms are commonly accepted to be the go to, and if you’ve never been to an urgent care facility, you may want to stick to the care you know and are familiar with. However, here are a few more statistic to consider.
- In many urgent care facilities patients wait no longer than 30 minutes to receive treatment from a provider, and many spend no longer than an hour at the facility. Additionally, some facilities can allow you to book an appointment online. This way there is a possibility that by the time you arrive you will have even less of a wait time, then if you came as a walk-in.
- Urgent care is a more affordable option when it comes to seeking treatment. You can go here for a comprehensive breakdown of expenses, but depending on the services needed, you can definitely save by going to an urgent care facility.
- Urgent care centers will accept insurance, and if the facility is in your network, the cost can be even lower.
Urgent care centers are the too often thought of option when it comes to treating minor injuries and illnesses. While the ER is invaluable for life saving and severe issue treatments, for minor ailments one of these centers can help you just as well. Anecdotally, as someone who has previously worked as patient transporter in a hospital emergency room, I’ve personally seen the enormous wait times that many patients have to sit though, especially in city and urban hospitals. With an urgent care facility you can be in and out, and feeling better in no time. If you haven’t already, research a few of the facilities in your area, and see which ones provide the best services for you and your family.