What Qualifies as ‘Urgent?’ Urgent Care Facilities Explained

Many people think an urgent care facility is the same as an emergency room, but that simply isn’t the case. Urgent care clinics are designed for people who need to see a doctor about an issue and don’t have time to wait for an appointment, but aren’t in a life threatening situation. Many urgent care clinics are available on a walk-in basis, frequently diagnosing and treating common but uncomfortable ailments, from flu shots and flu treatments to STD testing and urinary tract infections. Roughly 80% of urgent care clinics offer fracture care, usually providing their own x-ray services as well. Considering the fact that 3 million patients visit urgent care facilities each week, nationwide, there is a definite need for qualified doctors (so thank goodness there are currently 20,000 physicians working in Urgent Care Medicine)!

Urinary tract infections are one of the most uncomfortable experiences, and one of the most common. Accounting for around 8.1 million trips to the doctor each year, they are a perfect example to summarize the benefits of urgent care. The pain of a UTI can range from irritating and annoying at best to downright agonizing and debilitating at worst. The idea of waiting for a doctor’s appointment, which might not be available for several days, is simply unacceptable. But, after a trip to the local urgent care center, you can be on your way to recovery that very same day.

The flu is a similar experience — if your cold and illness has progressed far enough that you think you need to go to the doctor, the last thing you want to have to do is wait three days for an appointment. Medical care clinics can diagnose and treat the source of your torturous symptoms as soon as possible. Most clinics are especially used to treating the flu as 5% to 20% of Americans contract it each year. The common cold is even more frequent, infecting around 1 billion Americans yearly.


Essentially, urgent care exists for important but not life-endangering health problems. They can eliminate the multi-day wait that might accompany a doctor’s appointment and usually provide immediate relief, whether through setting a broken bone or writing a prescription that you can fill that day.

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