It is Saturday afternoon and you fell on the tennis court. You know you did something bad to your knee but you also know it is not going to kill you. You do not want to go to the emergency room but do not want to have to wait until your doctor’s office opens on Monday, what do you do? Luckily, there is probably an urgent care clinic near you where you can get medical treatment at night and on the weekend.
How to make the most of your urgent care clinic visit:
- Make an appointment online. Many urgent care facilities let you make an appointment online. This can be for same day services or for a future day. When you walk it and have an appointment, you will be seen before the people who are walking in.
- Go in the middle of the week. While it is not always possible to know when you are going to need to receive medical care, sometimes you have some wiggle room. If that is the case, if you go to the urgent care center, which also often provides preventative services, in the middle of the week, you will have an easier time.
- Do not expect to see a medical doctor. The care you receive will be first rate but it may be from a physician’s assistant or nurse practitioner. They are perfectly qualified to treat a wide array of ailments and problems so you should not be concerned about that. If you need medication, they will be able to prescribe it. Knowing that going in may make it less frustrating.
- Know that urgent care and emergency care are not the same. Urgent care is medical care that cannot wait but is not an emergency. If there is any chance that you may need to be admitted to a hospital, you should go to the emergency room to be evaluated. If you have a problem that does need treatment in a hospital, these walk in clinics can get your stabilized for transport to the hospital so you will still be in good hands.
The benefits of going to an urgent care center:
- Your will not wait as long. The average wait to see a medical professional is about 15 minutes. It is estimated that most patients in these clinics are in and out in under an hour. By contrast, you may wait an hour to be seen and evaluated in an emergency room. You will most likely spend hours in the emergency department.
- You will pay less. The most expensive place to get health care is the emergency room. Many health insurance carriers recognize the value in having people go to walk in clinics and have begun to embrace using these for health care. The copayments that are charged are a lot lower than for emergency room visits. You should check with your insurance carrier to see what their policy is.
- They can treat a wide variety of illnesses and injuries. Two of the most common problems that send people to emergency rooms and doctor’s offices around the country are muscle sprains and strains or upper respiratory infections. All of these can be treated at walk in clinics. At least 80% of these clinics can provide care for fractures. About 70% are able to give intravenous fluids for dehydration from nausea or vomiting. At the end of the day, the clinic medical staff can treat many illnesses and injuries and help people avoid going to the emergency room.
- It will be less stressful. When you go to the emergency room, there are ambulances coming and going and there is a lot of trauma happening all around you. Going to an urgent care center is a lot more relaxed and less stressful.
- You can get travel medicine. Are you planning a trip to an exotic place? Many walk in clinics provide travel medicine such as Yellow Fever shots or prophylactic malaria medications. It may be easier to get these kinds of things from a clinic than from your primary care doctor’s office.
When you are hurt or sick on the weekend or at night, going to an urgent care clinic may be what you need.