What Is Urgent Care? Learn More Here

Denver walk in clinic

Most people have had the experience where they become ill or injured and they cannot go to their doctor’s office because it is closed. The problem is that while they cannot wait for the doctor’s office to reopen, they also do not want to deal with the hospital emergency room. The good news is that there is another option. There are many urgent care locations all over the United States to help people in just that predicament.

What is urgent care? Emergency room doctors found there was a problem they would be able to solve. People were going to emergency rooms at night and on the weekend because they needed care right away but were not able to get into their primary care doctor’s office. Some people were even going to emergency rooms during normal business hours because they could not get an appointment with their physician.

In the 1970s, the first urgent care centers were opened in the United States. These walk in clinics were set to serve people who needed help rimmediately. As this was a real need, the number of urgent care clinics has grown a lot since the 1970s. You can find them in all cities and many towns across the nation.

When you think about the question, “what is urgent care?” you should know the following:

  • Urgent care is not emergency care. There is a difference in the kind of care you need when you go to the emergency room and when you visit one of the urgent care locations. Urgent care is needed when you want to be treated right away. Emergency care refers to an actual medical emergency and when you are having a real medical crisis, there is a chance that you will end up being admitted to the hospital. As unpleasant as it is, a sprain (one of the most common reasons people go to emergency rooms is an ankle sprain) may be, it is not a medical emergency.
  • You can go in without an appointment to the urgent care clinic. Many urgent care locations allow people to make appointments online or on the phone before they go to the clinic but you do not have to.
  • You have a much shorter wait at urgent care clinics. When you go to the emergency room, you have to wait hours to be seen. That is not the case in urgent care services centers. It has been estimated that about 60% of patients at urgent care clinics are in the waiting room less than 15 minutes when they are seen by a medical professional. More than 80% of patients at these centers are in and out in under an hour, according to the Urgent Care Association of America.
  • You can get travel medicine at an urgent care center. If you are traveling out of the United States and want to get medicine to prevent you from coming down with malaria or need vaccinations, you can get those at many urgent care facilities around the country. You should call and ask before you show up to make sure the one you want to go to has what you need.
  • You can get a variety of treatments at urgent care centers. At least 70% of the urgent care clinics around the nation can give you IV fluids if you have become dehydrated. A full 80% of the clinics around the country have x-ray machines and can handle simple fractures.
  • They are open when doctor’s offices are not. Most urgent care centers are open on the weekend and at least 66% are open before 9:00 am. More than 90% stay open until 7:00 pm or later. A large number keep their doors open until 9:00 pm.
  • The care is great and the price tag is lower than emergency rooms. While the care you get at both emergency rooms and urgent care centers is great, the price is much different. This is the reason so many health insurance carriers are recommending people go to urgent care centers when they have problems that need medical treatment right away. That is the answer to “what is urgent care.”

What is urgent care? It is medical care when you need it right away and do not need to be in a hospital.

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