What is Urgent Care?
Urgent care centers can treat patients for illnesses and injury that are non-life threatening. Some of these include flu, cuts that need stitches and asthma attacks. Urgent care fills the gap between emergency room treatment and physician’s offices. They provide an option for when you need immediate care, and your primary care physician is not available. Many urgent care clinics are open extended hours, weekends and holidays.
Do I Need an Appointment?
With urgent care, an appointment is not necessary. Simply walk in and you will be treated by a licensed provider. The wait times are usually short. Some urgent care clinics even offer up-to-date wait times and convenient pre-registration on their websites.
Will Urgent Care Accept My Insurance?
Before you decide to get medical treatment at an urgent care center, you might wonder if your insurance will cover the visit. Each insurance provider determines if they cover urgent care centers or not. They are all different. However, in most cases insurance companies will cover urgent care. You might be required to pay a co-payment or deductible up front. While it is likely that an urgent care clinic might take your insurance, it is always best to call ahead or check out the clinic’s web page for more information.
Does Urgent Care Provide School Sports Exams?
Urgent care clinics can indeed help your child get cleared to play. Many of these facilities offer comprehensive sports exams for clubs, youth, high school and even college-level sports teams. Urgent care sports physicals are a quick and affordable option to a primary care physician visit.
Can Urgent Care Handle Any Kind of Emergency?
Urgent care clinics are not equipped to manage life-threatening emergencies. It is best to go to the emergency room or call 911 if you experience any of the following:
- Difficulty breathing
- Chest pain
- Severe abdominal pain
- Head trauma
- Severe bleeding
- Confusion and weakness
Hospitals are better equipped and have more specialists at their disposal to treat these emergency situations.
What If I Suspect That I Have a Broken Limb? Can Urgent Care Help Me?
Broken bones and fractures require prompt medical care. Most urgent care centers are equipped with an x-ray machine. Therefore, you can obtain treatment for sprains and fractures at urgent care clinics. The treatment for a fracture or broken bone will depend upon the location of the injury and the seriousness of it. If it requires surgery, you will likely be referred to a specialist.
Do I Still Need a Primary Care Physician If I Use Urgent Care?
Although urgent care clinics can generally take care of anything a doctor’s office can, they should not replace your primary care physician. Urgent care clinics will see you when you are acutely ill or injured. Having a regular doctor is important for preventative care. Your primary care physician knows your complete medical history and will track your blood pressure and weight, watch out for signs of diabetes, discuss appropriate screenings and make sure your immunizations are up to date. In addition, your primary care physician is better equipped to manage chronic conditions, such as diabetes or chronic pain. If you do not have a primary care physician, you can still be seen at an urgent care center. They can refer you to a primary care physician for follow-up treatment and care.
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