It is 7:00 pm and you fell on the tennis court. Your doctor’s office is closed but you really do not want to go to the emergency room. What can you do? Your injury needs to be dealt with sooner than later and you are in luck. There is probably an urgent care clinic that is near you. More than two-thirds of urgent care facilities open their doors before 9:00 am Monday through Friday, almost half (45.7%) are open on Saturday and a third are open on Sunday. They all offer hours after most general practice physicians’ offices are closed. If you have sprained or broken a bone, they can refer you to an orthopedic doctor the same way your primary care physician can or the emergency room can.
6 Reasons to Seek Medical Care at a Walk In Clinic:
- Your wait time will be shorter. When you go to an emergency room in a hospital, you are seen not in the order in which you arrive but when the staff think your injury or illness needs to be treated. You are competing, for lack of a better word, with other, more serious problems. Ambulances may be arriving and people with potentially life threatening problems are seeking care at the same time as you. That means your wait can be a few minutes or it can be hours and hours. Nearly 70% of patients at urgent care centers wait less than 20 minutes to see a medical professional. Nearly 30% of people being seen at an urgent care center will wait between 21 and 40 minutes. Only 3% of people who go to a walk in clinic have to wait longer than 40 minutes. If you have to follow up with an orthopedic doctor, you will probably have to wait longer to see them than to be treated at the urgent care clinic.
- Medical care at urgent care clinics is much cheaper. When you get medical care at an emergency room it is the most expensive care out there. The cost for similar treatment and diagnoses that are given at emergency departments of hospitals can be between $228 to $583 less at the urgent care center.
- Sports injuries can be treated at urgent care centers. Most urgent care clinics have x-ray equipment and can diagnose and treat injuries that are usually treated by an orthopedic doctor. Simple breaks, sprains and strains can all be treated at a walk in clinic.
- Stomach problems can be treated at walk in clinics. If you have any kind of digestive problem, whether you are throwing up or have very bad diarrhea, the medical professionals at urgent care centers can help you. Nearly 70% of these clinics can administer intravenous fluids if that is something you need. Dehydration is common with digestive illnesses.
- Walk in medical clinics can provide travel medicine. If you are planning a vacation to an exotic place, you may need shots or anti-malarial medications to take with you. These are not offered at the emergency room and may not be available at your primary care physician’s office. Many walk in clinics do provide these medications and shots.
- Respiratory ailments can be treated at an urgent care clinic. If you have a bad cough or other problem with your respiratory system, the medical professionals at the local urgent care clinic can help you.
There are times when you really do need to be treated in the emergency room. If you think you are having a heart attack, stroke, have bleeding you cannot stop or have suffered a serious head injury, you probably need to go to the emergency department. If you go to an urgent care center, the medical professionals will evaluate your symptoms and if they determine you need an emergency room, they can send you to one. Having seen someone at the urgent care clinic will make your emergency room experience better.
Sports injuries that may require follow up with an orthopedic doctor or ailments that cannot wait for your doctor’s office to open can be treated at an urgent care clinic.