5 Reasons to Go to an Urgent Care Center
Most of us have has this experience. We find ourselves ill or injured but cannot get in to see our primary care physician. Maybe it is after hours, on the weekend or we just cannot get an appointment. We do not want to go to the emergency room but need medical care sooner rather than later. The good news is that there is another option. We can go to an urgent care center.
Urgent care centers were first developed in the 1970s. Doctors working at emergency rooms saw a need for health care on an urgent and last minute basis. These physicians saw that people needed to be able to be seen by a medical professional without having to make an appointment and after hours (or before hours) and on the weekend. Since the first few urgent care clinics opened, they have spread around the country. There are now over 10,000 locations across the United States.
There are a lot of problems that can be evaluated and treated at urgent care centers around the nation. Here are a few of them:
The common cold: People around the United States suffer from more than one billion colds every year. Children are more prone to developing a cold, they can get between six and ten each year. Some of the most common problems that send people to emergency rooms, doctor’s offices and urgent care centers are upper respiratory infections.
- Sprains and strains: Every day, nearly 25,000 people sprain their ankles. If all of the people who sprain or strain a muscle go to an urgent care center rather than an emergency room, that would greatly alleviate the pressure on hospital emergency rooms across the country.
- Simple fractures: Nearly 90% of all urgent care centers have x-ray technology and can help people who have suffered from a simple fracture.
- Dehydration: About 70% of the clinics around the nation are able to offer IV rehydration for people who have suffered from a stomach problem that has left them dehydrated.
- STD testing: Many people are not comfortable going to their primary care doctor to get this kind of testing done but they can skip going to the family physician and head to an urgent care center to have this done when they need or want it.
- Travel medicine: If you are planning a fun or business trip to certain parts of the world, you are going to want to get some medication to prevent getting malaria or Yellow Fever. These medications may not be available through your primary care doctor. They can often be received at the urgent care center. Make sure you call ahead to make sure the vaccine you want is available at the clinic you want to go to.
It is worth noting that there are times when you are going to have to go to the local hospital emergency room for the medical problem you are experiencing. Here are some things that need to be evaluated in the emergency room:
- Severe chest pain
- Any head injury that results in the loss of consciousness
- Any symptoms that resemble a stroke
- A high fever in infants
- A stab or gunshot wound
- A compound fracture
- This list is not exhaustive but if you do go to an urgent care center, they can evaluate your symptoms and will let you know if you need emergency services.
There are a lot of benefits to going to an urgent care center over being seen in a hospital. The wait time is a lot shorter. For most people who visit an urgent care center, they will get in and be seen by a medical professional within 15 minutes. Often, people are in and out in under an hour.
It is more convenient to go to the urgent care center. These centers are often open both before regular work hours begin and after they end. They have hours on the weekend and allow people to make an appointment in advance or just walk in.
They are cheaper. This is one reason many health insurance companies have joined the call to send people who need urgent but not emergency services. If you have questions, it is important to talk to your health insurance carrier to get clarification and more information.