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Basics Of Urgent Care

Updated on July 2, 2019
katiekellerman profile image

Katie is a receptionist at an urgent care and family medicine clinic. She brings knowledge of what happens behind the scenes of urgent care.

Urgent Care: What is it?

Urgent care has become a popular choice for acute illnesses throughout the United States. It's allowed for those with acute illnesses to avoid involving the ER for non-emergent situations. Acute illnesses can range from a sore throat to a UTI (urinary tract infection). Most urgent cares will be open past the hours of a regular doctors office and offer weekend visits. Urgent care is used by those with no primary care to those that can't get in to see primary care for an acute illness. Though, it seems to some urgent care is assumed to be as accessible to medical needs as the ER. Each clinic will have a variance on capabilities and should be noted when looking for an urgent care for your specific need.

Expect a Wait

Twenty minutes into your visit, you probably will still be waiting for a provider to see you. Wait times are still going to be likely in an urgent care clinic, but it will be less of wait than the ER for a sore throat. You can be given an approximate wait time, but it can change due to the complexity of the patients being seen prior to you.

A place called urgent care gives many the assumption that it will be a quick visit with no wait, but that isn't always the case. Urgent care is named as such because you can get urgent medical needs met without sitting in the ER. Emergent needs, such as heart attack, stroke, or head injuries should be seen as an EMERGENCY in an ER, not urgent care.

Don't expect to be seen within 10 minutes of walking in the door, especially if you see a waiting room full of people.

Urgent Care Worthy

  • Sore Throat, Ear Pain, and Fevers
  • Cuts
  • Broken Bones (not all have X-Ray on site)
  • Sinus Infections
  • Rash
  • Infections (fingers, toes, or wounds)
  • Urinary Tract Infections

Ask yourself, would this be something our primary doctor could do in the office? Yes, then urgent care should be the right option for you.

ER Worthy

  • Heart/Chest Pain
  • Dehydration
  • Pain Level of 10 (stomach, head, or pretty much anywhere)
  • Possible Stroke
  • Lacerations (possible nerve or tendon damage)
  • Broken Bones

If you have passed out, or feel as though you might, please go to the ER.

With this knowledge above it may help you plan your visit or figure what will be your best option. Just keep in mind, most urgent care is a walk-in basis only. So, you more than likely will have a wait, but it will be less time and money than the ER.

Have you visited urgent care in the last 6 months?

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