If you’re like many people, you avoid the emergency room like the plague; not because you’re afraid, but because you don’t want it to turn into an all-day event.
If you ask emergency staff, they’ll tell you that it’s not unusual to have to wait up to eight hours to be seen. This is because anyone more critical than you will be pushed to the front of the line. If you need to be seen for an illness or injury that isn’t life threatening, don’t ignore your problem; take a trip to urgent care.
1. When You Can’t See Your Physician
If you have a family doctor and your illness or injury isn’t life threatening, he or she should always be your first call. In the event that you can’t get an appointment in a satisfactory amount of time, or your doctor’s office is closed, your nearest urgent care center can be a fantastic option. Rather than sitting idly and suffering with your issue, have someone take you to an urgent care center for proper medical attention.
2. Who Will Treat You?
Many people are concerned that they won’t see a “real” physician if they visit an urgent care center. According to Dr. Sarah Holder of the Quick Care Clinic at Methodist Charlton Medical Center in Dallas, most urgent care centers are staffed by physicians, nurse practitioners and physicians’ assistants. These are often the same types of professionals who would see you in an emergency room or in your doctor’s office.
3. What You Can Get Treated For?
There are very few regulations when it comes to urgent care centers in terms of what they can and can’t treat you for. What this means is that you can often find the same type of care at an urgent care center as you would in an emergency room. Most urgent care centers offer imaging, lab work, urine and fecal tests, and other routine screenings. If you find an urgent care facility that doesn’t offer these things, it’s not because they aren’t permitted to do so, it’s because they’ve chosen not to do so. Your urgent care center will be able to treat you for almost every minor illness and injury.
4. Urgent Care versus Retail Clinics
If you are sick, it’s important to understand the difference between the type of clinic you can find in your local pharmacy and an urgent care clinic. Retail clinics are staffed by nurse practitioners and treat common, minor illnesses and injuries. If you have something a bit more serious, like pneumonia or a broken bone, these retail clinics will refer you to an emergency room or urgent care center.
Just like hospitals and your doctor’s office, urgent care centers accept most major medical insurance plans. If you have insurance, it’s always a good idea to find out whether there are restrictions in your policy as to where you can be treated. If you can’t find this information in your insurance packet, call your local urgent care center and find out if they accept your medical insurance. If your insurance provider will not cover your visit, you’ll need to be able to pay your bill in full on your own.
Urgent care centers can be a great source for treatment of your illnesses and injuries. While it’s not unusual to wait for hours on end in an emergency room, you’ll never have to sit for hours in an urgent care facility. Don’t suffer with an illness when you don’t have to; you can receive proper, caring attention at your local urgent care center.