If You Are Sick or Hurt, Emergency Walk In Clinics May Be the Best Places to Go
Every day, people find themselves injured or ill after their doctor’s office has closed. Many of these people find their way to the hospital emergency room but is that really the best place to go? Luckily, for most people in the United States, there are other options. Emergency walk in clinics can be found in every state in the country.
What Is an Emergency Walk In Clinic?
Emergency walk in clinics, also referred to as urgent care centers, were started in the 1970s by emergency room doctors. They were started to fill a need for health care for problems that cropped up after hours and on the weekend but did not warrant a stay in the hospital. Care in these clinics is a lot cheaper than what is received in an emergency room. There are currently more than 6,800 emergency walk in clinics around the country.
What Are the Benefits to Going to an Emergency Walk in Clinic?
When you go to the hospital emergency room, you are seen, not just in the order you arrive but by the severity of your problem. You are competing with people arriving by ambulance or who are having a heart attack, stoke or have suffered some life threatening emergency such as a stabbing or gunshot wound. This means you may end up waiting for hours before you are even called back to be seen by medical professionals. By contrast, approximately 57% of all people who seek out care at a walk in clinic will be seen by someone within about 15 minutes. Most people get in and out of the urgent care center within about an hour.
Many urgent care centers allow you to make an appointment online or to call ahead. While the wait time is not long for walk in patients, if you know you are going to have some time at a certain time, you can make arrangements in advance and that will make the process a little faster. Some people find some peace of mind knowing they are going to be seen at a certain time.
Most clinics are also open after 7:00 pm during the week and on both Saturday and Sunday. You should call to make sure but this is generally the reason the facilities exist at all.
The care is a lot cheaper in urgent care centers than the emergency room. Many insurance companies recognize this and, as a result, the copayment that is required for care is lower.
What Kinds of Care Is Offered at an Emergency Walk in Clinic?
There are a lot of illnesses and injuries that can be treated at a walk in clinic. The most common problem that is treated at one is an upper respiratory infection. The most common procedure that they do is deal with simple wounds. They can also provide care for strains, sprains and simple fractures. At least 80% of all walk in clinics have x-ray technology and the ability to care for these fractures. Here is a basic list of some of the problems that can be treated in a walk in clinic:
- Muscle sprains and strains.
- Simple bone fractures.
- Mild to moderate back injuries.
- Problems breathing such as mild or moderate asthma.
- Eye redness and irritation.
- Skin infections and rashes.
- Urinary tract infections.
- Severe cough or sore throat.
- Fevers and flus.
- Vomiting and diarrhea. This includes care for dehydration.
Many walk in clinics also offer travel medicine services. They can provide prescriptions for prophylactic medicines to prevent diseases like malaria. They can also give shots that are recommended or required to travel to some parts of the world. Call ahead to make sure they can do these things.
There are times when you really do need to be seen in an emergency room. If you have a primary care physician, and everyone really should, they should be called if you have a problem after hours or on the weekend. That office can tell you if you need to go the emergency room or if you can go to a walk in clinic. The staff at clinic will tell you if you need to go to an emergency room.