If you’ve ever had a medical issue that required care while traveling or if you haven’t been able to get ahold of your regular doctor, you may have turned to urgent care for medical assistance. There are generally a number of urgent care clinics available in communities that provide care for non-life-threatening situations. They can often offer prescriptions for non-chronic conditions, prescribe common antibiotics, and have extended hours and often operate on weekends and holidays, when other doctors’ offices might be closed. Even knowing where an urgent care facility is in your regular community can be helpful, should you need to see a physician and can’t get in with your usual doctor. Find urgent care near you, instead of heading straight to the emergency room. It can help reduce overcrowding in ER’s and ensure that you get seen faster.
Tell Me About Urgent Care
Unfortunately, there is always someone who is going to be sick or injured, who needs care immediately. The average child alone catches anywhere from six to ten colds a year on average and we get one billion colds a year as a nation. Almost seven million bones get broken each year in the United States and the flu sweeps through between 5% and 20% of Americans annually. Under 30% of primary car doctors have after-hours coverage and emergency rooms can only handle so much.
Luckily, there are almost 7,000 urgent care centers in the United States, most in freestanding buildings. Around three million patients check into an urgent care center weekly in the United States. The urgent care movement started in the 1970s but has spread around the world since then and each urgent care center handles an array of medical issues. Staffing around two-thirds of urgent care centers are a variety of physicians, nurse practitioners, or physician assistants. Around 65% of centers have at least one physician that’s on the premises at all times.
What Can Urgent Care Help Me With?
Urgent care can handle any medical emergency that’s not life-threatening. Physicians at urgent care can take care of minor broken bones or sprains, minor burns, the flu, UTI’s, diarrhea, vomiting, high fevers, and more. Some urgent care centers may also offer STD testing, physicals, and have X-ray equipment. Urgent care centers partner with a major lab to get results and to provide the most accurate diagnosis possible.
Medical issues including but not limited to signs of a heart attack or stroke, gunshot wounds, uncontrollable bleeding, convulsions, poisoning, or any head, neck, and back injuries should be taken immediately to the emergency room, as those endanger the life of the patient if not seen to immediately.
Why You Should Find Urgent Care Near You
When you find urgent care near you, you’re almost guaranteed to have a lower waiting time than if you head to the emergency room. The Urgent Care Association of America found that almost 60% of patients waited 15 minutes or less to be seen and the average visit time was an hour or less for 80% of visits. Many urgent care centers also offer the option to check in online, further saving time.
Your costs will also be lower — the average ER visit will run you an average of $1,500, while the average urgent care center costs a little under $150. Most urgent care centers also take insurance, so your costs may be even lower, depending on your insurance plan.
Urgent care centers are usually accommodating to walk-ins and have extended morning and evening hours, as well as weekend and holiday hours. So if you need medical assistance on a time or date that your doctor isn’t in, urgent care centers are a perfect solution.
By seeking out urgent care, you’ll also help reduce overcrowding in emergency rooms. The Rand Corporation’s study in 2010 found that almost one in five visits to emergency rooms could have been handled at urgent care centers. If those visits had gone to urgent care instead, almost five billion could have been saved in healthcare costs annually.
Find urgent care near you and see what services they offer you. They’re a good number to have in your back pocket, should you need them in a pinch.