Urgent care centers are a great place to get affordable, efficient, and friendly medical care without the inconvenience of having to make an appointment at the doctor’s office or wait for normal office hours, or the expense and long wait times associated with the hospital emergency room. Here’s what you need to know about urgent care.
What is Urgent Care?
Urgent care clinics are set up to provide immediate medical help for non-life-threatening emergencies. It’s often possible to see doctors outside of normal office hours at an urgent care facility, and many are open on the weekends. No appointment is required, although it’s possible to make one, and typical wait times are significantly lower than average emergency room wait times at a hospital would be. Many urgent care facilities can provide fracture care, and urgent care is set up and equipped to treat colds and flu, respiratory issues, poison ivy reactions and other skin issues, wound repair, asthma attacks, and other injuries and illnesses that need immediate attention but are not life-threatening. A walk in clinic is also a great place to go for sports physicals, flu shots, and other preventative care or care for chronic conditions.
What Should I Expect At Urgent Care Centers?
When you step into an urgent care location, you can expect to be greeted and made to feel comfortable. There will be a quiet waiting room, and many urgent care locations feature a children’s play area. The urgent care medical team and staff will be working to get doctors and other medical professionals on your case as soon as possible. These days, many urgent care facilities are able to do lab work and x-rays on site, meaning that you can often get a diagnosis quickly and care can begin immediately. If your situation requires a referral to a physical therapist, to a hospital, or to some sort of medical specialist, you can expect to have everything clearly explained to you.
What Should I Bring With Me To Urgent Care?
If you are coming to an urgent care facility, you should be sure to bring any required forms that you need the clinic to fill out. This could be forms for school physicals, immigration physicals, or vaccination records. If you have been referred to the urgent care center by another center or doctor, be sure to bring along any documents that your referring medical care team gave you. Bring any prescriptions that you’re currently taking, a photo ID, proof of insurance if you’re using insurance, and as much of your medical history information and allergy information as you have. You’ll also want to be able to answer any questions about what supplements, vitamins, or herbal remedies you might be taking.
When Should I Avoid Urgent Care?
There are some medical emergencies an urgent care center is not designed to treat. You should call 911 for help if someone has stopped breathing; has experienced a head injury after passing out or are confused; has experienced an injury to the neck for spine; has had an electric shock; has experienced a seizure and is not already diagnosed as an epileptic; or is experiencing severe chest pain or pressure. Either call 911 or go to an emergency room directly for help with breathing trouble; unusual or bad headaches; sudden inability to speak, see, or move; sudden weakness or drooping on one side; dizziness that does not go away; sudden confusion; severe bone breaks, especially if the bone is pushing out from the skin; for treatment of deep wounds or serious burns; heavy bleeding or coughing up blood; a severe allergic reaction that includes hives and trouble breathing; a high fever accompanied by a headache and a stiff neck; vomiting or diarrhea that does not stop; a severe car accident; poisoning or overdoses of drugs or alcohol.
Urgent care centers can provide effective treatment for many medical needs. They’re also equipped to provide preventative care and ongoing care for a wide variety of chronic conditions. If you need immediate medical care for a non-life-threatening condition, don’t hesitate to visit an urgent care location near you.