It is after 6:00 pm and you just wiped out on the tennis court, what do you do? It is Satruday afternoon and your child’s ear infection is getting worse, where should you go? For many people, the answer is the emergency room but it does not have to be. All over the country medical urgent care clinics have sprung up.
Why should I choose a medical urgent care clinic over the ER?
- The wait time cannot be beat. Nearly 60% of people who seek treatment at an urgent care facility are seen within 15 minutes of their arrival. About 80% get in and out within 80 minutes. That is much less time than it takes to be seen in any emergency room. In an emergency room, the personnel has to put you in line with other sicker people or those with much more serious and life threatening injuries and it can take hours to see a physician.
- The hours are conducive to most busy schedules. Urgent care facilities can be better for an illness or injury that cannot wait until the doctor’s office opens but it not a true medical emergency. Many of these medical urgent care centers have hours before 9:00 am (at least 66% of these clinics are open then) and a large number are open on the weekends. Nearly 46% are open on Saturdays and another 31% have hours on Sundays. Nearly 90% of all medical urgent care clinics are open after 7:00 pm during the week.
- Treatment at urgent care centers is more cost effective. Getting medical treatment at the emergency room is the most expensive way to get it. By contrast, medical urgent care clinics are much less expensive. If you have health insurance, you are in luck. Most insurance companies perfer that patients seek care from an urgent care clinic rather than an emergency room and the copayment is a lot less. Check with your insurance carrier for more information.
- Most urgent care clinics have x-ray and do lab tests. Think you broke a bone? You can go to an medical urgent care clinic to find out. Many of the tests that you would have doen in an emergency room can be done in an urgent care center. Some also have pharmacies on site so that you have your prescriptions available for you when you leave. If you are concerned about strep throat or an ear infection, this can be a better place to get care than an emergency room.
There are times when you DO need to seek treatment at an emergency room. If you are having chest pains or have suffered what could be a life threatening injury, you should call 911. If you have other major injuries to your head or have a very high fever, the emergency department is for you. These are just a few examples and you can call your doctor for advice about this. The medical urgent care clinic can also tell you if your situation warrants a trip to the hopital.
For a wide arrage of other illnesses and injuries, urgent care centers offer a very cost effective, fast and convenient way to get good medical care for things that are pressing but not real emergencies. They can also be a lot less traumatic for young children who have never been to an emergency room. There are no ambulances coming and going from urgent care clinics. Ask your insurance carrier what thier policy is and know where the clinics are before you need them. Then you will be in the best position to decide if and when the time comes to seek care for you or a family member.