Urgent Care ClinicsOur Saving Grace
Until several years ago, it would be quite difficult to find doctors after office hours, unless patients went to a hospital emergency room. Nowadays, however, because of the difficulties caused by the inability to reach a doctor during off hours, many urgent care facilities and after hours urgent care clinics have been created. Thankfully, for situations that are not life threatening, patients can go to the nearest walk in clinic at any time of day, and, often, any day of the week, to be seen by a medical professional.
Medical walk in clinics provide patients with care for non-emergency conditions. Injuries or illnesses that could be life threatening should be addressed at a hospital emergency room. An urgent care facility is a site where patients should go for conditions that are not classified as emergencies, but do require care within a 24 hour span of time. Illnesses such as fevers and vomiting, severe sore throat, flu, and UTI’s, or urinary tract infections, can be treated at a walk in medical clinic. Minor broken bones and fractures, rashes, and minor back pain can also be evaluated and treated by doctors at a walk in clinic.
Such medical problems as chest pain, excessive bleeding, serious head, neck, and back injuries, and poisoning need to be seen immediately at a hospital emergency room. In addition, not every urgent care facility provides doctors who are able to treat broken bones and fractures. Four out of five typically do offer this type of care, but, for breaks and fractures that could be classified as compound or worse, a hospital emergency room is recommended.
Because of the availability of walk in clinics these days, it has become a much easier task to find doctors. Years ago, when children became sick on a Saturday, a Sunday, or any night of the week, it was difficult for parents to contact the child’s pediatrician. There was always a doctor on call to speak with; however, there was no place available to take the child to be seen other than the nearest emergency room. Parents had to navigate through a sleepless night with a child in pain until the next day when the doctor’s office opened. Today, because of the existence of urgent care clinics, 85% of which are open seven days a week, parents are able to bring their child to be seen immediately by a medical professional. When a child is sick or in pain, a parent just wants to provide their child with relief. Adults, as well, when experiencing an illness or pain, can find the relief they need right away without waiting for their doctor’s office to open, or waiting for hours at a hospital emergency room.
Very often medical professionals who see patients at a medical walk in clinic will be able to treat the patient’s complaint, but, after providing immediate care, will refer the patient to either their own doctor for follow up or to a specialist who can further evaluate the problem. Doctors at urgent care facilities, as mentioned earlier, are there and trained to see patients for non-life threatening situations, but whose problem is earnest enough to need attention within 24 hours. Often urgent care doctors will consult with a specialist by phone while diagnosing the patient’s illness or injury, to be sure the treatment is appropriate.
Usually a walk in medical clinic is not equipped for laboratory testing that is any more extensive than tests such as strep tests, pregnancy tests, or urinalysis. Any further pervasive testing required will always be referred to the nearest hospital emergency room for tests such as MRI and ultrasound.
Statistics show that approximately three million patients are seen by urgent care facilities across the U.S. each week. The easy access to these clinics now affords patients the peace of mind of being able to find doctors when they need them. This type of medical care has greatly broadened the scope of accessibility to medical professionals that was really missing years ago. In addition, because of the existence of clinics where patients can now be seen for non-life threatening conditions, hospital emergency rooms are now a little less crowded and the wait to be seen is a little less excruciating. So is the ability to find doctors!