Urgent care facilities have been opening up all across the country and continue to expand the areas that they service, and they are now an important part of a person's health care. If you have never used one before, there are a few things you should understand about this type of health care service.
Urgent care clinics are not emergency rooms
If you have a health emergency that may be life threatening, you need an emergency room. In most cases, you will likely need transportation, so a 911 emergency phone call will be in order; however, if you can drive yourself or be driven, you probably should go to an urgent care facility. If you have a cut and think you may need stitches, an urgent care clinic can help you.
You still need a doctor
Urgent care clinics are not a substitute for a primary care physician. You still need to make appointments to see your doctor periodically, if only for a checkup; you should never use an urgent care clinic to function as your primary care physician. A good example of this is attempting to get an urgent care doctor to refill a prescription; they will seldom do this.
Wait times are typically short
Many hospitals have what they call a walk-in emergency clinic. This is similar to urgent care because it is for those who require urgent attention, but their condition is short of being an emergency. Unfortunately, these walk-in emergency rooms have become overwhelmed with patients, and the wait times can be measured in hours. There are many reasons for this, but you can avoid the stress of waiting to see a doctor by using an urgent care facility. In addition, if you are feeling sick and cannot see your doctor quickly, you may want to use urgent care. They can be especially helpful on a weekend when your doctor may not be available.
Decide on a facility before you need it
Although most insurance companies will pay for a trip to the emergency room regardless of which one you go to, the same is not true for an urgent care facility. For this reason, you need to select an urgent care clinic in advance. When the time comes to use one, you are not likely to be in the mood to do any research. Find an urgent care clinic near you and have their phone number handy in case you need it. Know exactly where it is located, and the easiest way to get there.
In general, an urgent care center bridges a gap in your health care needs between your doctor and an emergency room. You should make these clinics a part of your health care.