Urgent care clinics seem to be popping up everywhere and you may be wondering exactly what they are and if they are for you. Urgent care clinics tend to treat more serious issues than retail clinics but are not designed to provide the life-saving treatments you would receive at a traditional emergency room. With extended hours and the ability to get you into a doctor quickly, their popularity is rising due to their convenient nature. While there are many pros to these clinics, there are other factors to think about before deciding where to seek out medical attention.
There are several advantages to urgent care clinics that are helping to lead to their popularity. To start, the speed in which you are treated tends to be better than traditional clinics or hospitals. This is great for those sudden illnesses or injuries that don’t quite warrant the ER but need to be dealt with as soon as possible. The wait times tend to be shorter since there are more physicians and nurses on staff than at a traditional doctor’s office. If lack of time is an issue for your family, an urgent care clinic may be a great fit for you in those times of need. Most have x-ray and other advanced machines that you may not find in your primary physician’s office and typically expect to have to go to the ER for. Broken bones, sprains, and mild burns are all common issues treated in house at an urgent care clinic. Another benefit, as mentioned earlier, is that they tend to have extended hours going into the evening time and are open on the weekends. Those with busy schedules or those who have difficulty getting off of work can still get the medical care they need without the restrictions of traditional business hours. Perhaps one of the main perks of urgent care clinics is the cost. For cash paying patients, they are often a great deal less in price than what one would be charged by going to the ER. Those with insurance will also probably save since the copay tends to be less than that of an ER visit.
While the benefits seem plentiful, there are some disadvantages to take into consideration. To start, you most likely won’t see the same physician each time you go. It may also be hard or impossible to schedule a follow up with the doctor who initially treated you. If you are an individual who likes the familiar and is not comfortable sharing your medical history with several different physicians or nurses, an urgent care clinic may not be for you. It is important to note that all medical staff, no matter where you go, are all held to the same oaths and standards of care. Another negative is that some urgent care clinics don’t save “files” on the patients they see so it may require some digging on your and an office staff’s part to put together your medical history from visits there.
As you can see, there are advantages and disadvantages of attending an urgent care clinic. Although your situation may not leave you a great deal of time to think about where to go for a medical issue, try to take a moment to look at what you think your specific health needs will be and if you will be better suited to visit your primary care physician, an urgent care clinic, or an emergency room. Do some research before a medical issue hits so you are familiar with the location of the urgent care clinic along with their hours and other important information such as what they typically treat there. By being informed ahead of time, you will be in a better place to make the right decision in the time of need.