Urgent care clinics are often overlooked by people seeking immediate medical attention. Whenever someone is gravely ill or injured, their first instinct is often to visit an emergency room. Although emergency rooms are open 24 hours a day, 85% of urgent care centers are open seven days per week. Urgent care clinics are often a fraction of the cost of an emergency room visit and are an important facet of healthcare. They provide a convenient, cost-effective method of care for non-life-threatening injuries and illnesses. So when is an urgent care clinic better than the ER?
The Common Cold
Americans, on average, catch about one billion colds every year. Because cold symptoms can last up to 10 days, it is easy to mistake them for an illness that is more serious, such as influenza or even an upper respiratory infection. In fact, the most prevalent diagnosis in urgent care clinics in 2012 was upper respiratory infections. It would be unfortunate for someone to make a costly trip to an emergency room for treatment when an urgent care center would have readily performed similar care. An urgent care doctor can help determine the cause of upper respiratory symptoms to prevent or detect more serious infections such as pneumonia.
Minor Everyday Accidents
Urgent care centers often accept walk-ins, so it is not difficult to find a convenient health-care alternative to seeing your primary care physician or ER doctor. Reports estimate that 25,000 Americans sprain their ankle each day, and four out of five urgent care facilities provide fracture care. With the frequency of daily accidents, it is reasonable to become familiar with the type of symptoms that urgent care can treat. If you have recently rolled your ankle or had a minor slip and fall, it may be wise to seek treatment at your local urgent care provider to detect a potential fracture.
Most Americans cook frequently, whether at home or on the job. The kitchen can be a hazardous place, with careless gestures leading to painful consequences, such as cuts, scrapes, or minor burns. Urgent care clinics provide accessible care for wounds that require stitches, or can phone-in prescriptions and topical creams at your local pharmacy to make your afternoon go by a bit more quickly and pleasantly. If you suspect you may need stitches, visiting an urgent care provider may answer your questions.
Minor Medical Advice
Urgent care clinics can be the bridge between you and seeing an ER provider. Often, they give sound advice about the severity of your illness or injury and can tell you what symptoms to watch out for in order to take steps in preventative care. For example, if you suspect that a rash is from exposure to poison ivy, but you fear, like 85% of Americans who experience allergic reactions to the plant, that the rash may worsen and cause associated symptoms, you may visit an urgent care clinic which can offer sound medical advice on maintaining prudent vigilance on your health.
Lastly, urgent care can proffer peace of mind. If you suspect that you or your child has been experiencing excessive diarrhea or vomiting to the point of dehydration, an urgent care clinic can evaluate your symptoms and determine if you or your family require further treatment. Often, the quick turnaround at urgent care clinics can improve your overall journey to recovery because you skip the waiting room and have a professional prognosis at your fingertips.