Many people think that urgent care centers and emergency rooms are the same and offer the same level of care and treatment. However, this belief is not true because these facilities have some key differences. Understanding these differences can help you choose the best center for your specific treatment and needs.
Read more to learn what is urgent care and when should you visit these types of facilities.
What Is an Urgent Care?
An urgent care center provides immediate medical attention for common and minor injuries and illnesses such as cuts, sprains and strains, burns, accidents and falls, strep throat, a broken bone, or the common cold. It also provides other medical services such as routine EKG testing, lab work and vaccinations, and alcohol screening.
How Does Urgent Care Work?
Urgent care centers include doctors, medical assistants, doctor assistants, nurses, radiological technicians, nurse practitioners, front desk receptionists, and more. You can visit an urgent care facility at any time and any day even without an appointment, as it is like a walk-in clinic. Your wait time varies depending on the number of patients ahead of you in the queue. Urgent care centers may be busy during holidays, nights, and weekends when doctor offices are closed.
When to Go to an Urgent Care Center Vs Your Doctor
The severity of your health problem determines whether you should visit an urgent care center or your doctor. You should visit your doctor for serious emergencies including chest pain, unconsciousness, difficulty breathing, and more. If your health problem is a common or non-dangerous one, you can take advantage of the affordability and convenience offered by your local urgent care center.
Urgent Care Vs. Emergency Room: Where Should I Go?
Urgent care centers provide suitable and cost-effective treatments. However, you must understand the medical conditions that they can and cannot treat. You can visit an urgent care center if your regular doctor is unavailable to treat your acute or common health problems. On the other hand, if you experience an immediate, life-threatening health problem, you should visit an emergency room.
When to Go to Urgent Care
You can visit an urgent care center for a variety of minor medical conditions that require immediate care and attention, which include:
- Small cuts that might need stitches
- Fever without a rash
- Sprains and strains
- Abdominal pain
- Vomiting or persistent diarrhea
- Moderate flu-like symptoms
- Wheezing or shortness of breath
- Moderate back problems
- Eye irritation and redness
- Urinary tract infections
- Bleeding that does not stop
- Sore throat
How Much Does Urgent Care Cost?
An urgent care visit costs less than an emergency room visit. However, the cost still varies depending on the individual conditions and type of medical care and attention you receive.
What Time Does an Urgent Care Open and Close?
The business hours of urgent care facilities vary from one to another. Some centers may open earlier than your regular physician’s office. Generally, urgent care centers will close later in the evening or remain open the whole night.