Urgent care. It is a term that means many things and for many means a better avenue for health treatment than other possibilities. It means immediate treatment, without an appointment. It means diagnostic equipment, like x-ray equipment. And it means a mid-level or primary care provider. Adequate treatment. Mid-level cost.
For many Americans, they are stuck between two possibilities when they have an urgent care issue: the emergency room or the primary care physician’s office. The emergency room has the best care and the best equipment, but it is costly. The primary care physician’s office has low cost but an appointment needs to be made. It’s not the best treatment.
In the 1980’s, this was certainly the case. Back then, there just those two choices. But today there is a growing form of treatment called urgent care. It began in the 1980’s, when this issue was predominant. ER’s were flooded with cases that didn’t require the care of the emergency room. And the primary care physician still needed an appointment.
There are some terms worth noting at the start of this article. They comprise different kinds of injuries and ailments that are treated in urgent care centers. There are a couple of statistics about urgent care centers themselves. The statistics are:
- 3 million patients visit urgent care centers each week.
- There are 20,000 physicians who practice Urgent Care Medicine today.
- 85% of urgent care centers are open seven days a week.
- Four out of five urgent care centers provide fracture care.
- 25,000 Americans suffer from an ankle sprain each day.
- Americans get approximately 1 billion colds.
- Between 5% and 20% of Americans come down with the flu.
Urgent care centers have many benefits over the primary care physician’s office and the emergency room. A quick breakdown follows.
The primary care physician is a good option for treatment for routine medical issues and those not facing urgent issues. The reason this is the case is that a primary care physician’s office may lack extensive imaging equipment that can diagnose injuries. They also require an appointment, which is not good for people with urgent medical issues.
This aspect of needed an appointment is what makes the urgent care center a good option for those needing help with immediate issues. An urgent care center is a walk in clinic, meaning that a person doesn’t need an appointment to be seen. People can be seen as they come in, for issues ranging from ankle sprains to lacerations.
The equipment in urgent care centers is also generally better than that of the primary care physician’s office. There are generally x-ray equipment, CAT scans, and other imaging equipment that can help a doctor or a mid-level provider in an urgent care center make a firm diagnosis.
The emergency room has the best care, with the most qualified doctors, and the best imaging equipment. A person receives the most accurate, comprehensive care in these facilities. However, an emergency room can be costly, sometimes amounting to thousands of dollars per visit.
An urgent care center provides good care, though not as good as the emergency room and for a fraction of the price. A bill that runs into the thousands at an emergency room will run into the hundreds in urgent care. And there is generally a small co-pay for people with insurance at urgent care centers.
Urgent care centers provide more comprehensive treatment than the primary physician’s office at a fraction of the cost of an emergency room. All the while offering walk in basis, which is good for immediate and urgent issues.
Urgent care treatment is generally provided by at least one physician. There is also usually a mid-level provider there at the facility. Urgent care treatment can run from bandaging wounds to resetting fractures to sewing up cuts and prescribing medication for urinary tract infections.
Urgent care treatment generally happens quickly, with the majority of patients being seen in 15 minutes or less. Almost all patients are seen within 45 minutes. Urgent care treatment tends to more comprehensive than the primary care physician’s office and happens immediately, without an appointment.
There are many things to consider with urgent care treatment. Finding the right location with the right doctor can be a challenge but many urgent care centers have doctors that are extremely qualified to do their job.