Skye likes writing about mental health, nutrition, and wellness. She is passionate about sharing information that will educate, and positively affect people's lives.
Po-Chang Hsu, M.D.
Dr. Hsu received his medical degree from Tufts University in Boston, Massachusetts, and holds a Master’s of Science degree from both Harvard University and Tufts University. Outside of the medical profession, Dr. Hsu loves to write, learn new languages, and travel.
February 18, 2021
It’s important to know your options when you need medical help. Choosing whether or not to go to urgent care can make a big difference in the medical attention you receive and how much it will cost you. Urgent care is the best option when you have an injury that requires immediate attention – like a severe cut or broken bone – but that isn’t especially critical or life-threatening.
According to Scripps, “Urgent care or walk-in clinics help fill a vital gap when you become sick or injured, but your regular doctor is not available, and you can’t wait for an appointment.” The main difference between your doctor and urgent care is that urgent care can help people immediately, instead of by way of appointment.
Let’s learn more about the differences between emergency care and urgent care, when you should use it, essential things to know before heading out the door, and how you can get urgent care online.
Unlike the emergency room, urgent care centers are not open 24/7. They are open during regular business hours that vary from one location to another.
Urgent care facilities are known for being much faster than the emergency room and a lot easier on your wallet. They’re also focused on less life-threatening conditions than you’d see in an E.R.
Urgent care isn’t the same as emergency care, which needs immediate and significant attention. If you think you’re having a heart attack, stroke, or have just been in a serious accident, you need to go to the emergency room.
Of course, avoid going to the emergency room for minor illnesses or injuries like scrapes and breaks. That’s what urgent care is for.
There are several reasons to go to urgent care that the professionals can help with. Some of the more common physical ailments they treat are:
Though you may have to wait a short period to be seen, it’s typically much quicker than a hospital emergency room’s wait time.
Here’s a general rundown of how your experience with urgent care will go.
You do not need health insurance to receive treatment at urgent care facilities. You can find provider lists on most urgent care websites. One of the most significant differences between urgent care and other options is that you must pay before leaving.
Whether you have anxiety about seeking medical help or you like to be informed, there are things you should know before going to an urgent care clinic. Below are some helpful tips to make your trip as stress-free as possible.
Unlike your family doctor, urgent care staff won’t have extensive medical records for their patients. If applicable, it’s good to bring the proper medication documents. This includes your health insurance information, prescription meds you’re taking, any diagnosis you may have had in the past, and more.
Children under 18 will need a parent or guardian with them at urgent care.
If a child arrives without a parent or guardian, they must have a parental authorization form. Along with any medical records, you’ll want to bring a form of identification like a driver’s license or passport. Lastly, make sure you bring proper payment, as it will be due before leaving the facility.
Again, you’re not scheduling an appointment with a specific physician when you go to an urgent care center. It’s good to be aware that, depending on your medical situation, you may not see a doctor during your visit. Physician assistants and nurse practitioners in all urgent care facilities are qualified to help most patients.
The busiest times at urgent care facilities can vary from one city to another. Most often, nights, weekends, and holidays are when you can expect the longest wait times. This is because traditional primary care centers are closed or have limited hours.
If you have to go during one of these times, visit the facilities website to check in early.
Many professionals suggest having a specific urgent care office in mind. Just like you have your primary care doctor and chosen hospital that you visit when needed, it’s good to have a go-to urgent care center as well.
If you’re moving or planning a vacation, look for urgent care centers in the area where you’ll be. Write down their contact information just in case you need to visit.
Online options are also extremely fast, and you can usually book an appointment to see a doctor within minutes.
Yes! Just like your family doctor or the hospital, urgent care is fully equipped with a staff of doctors and nurse practitioners trained to perform many different tests and procedures. You can receive the following treatment at most urgent care facilities.
Yes, you can often be treated by an online doctor very quickly for things that do not require meeting physically. Of course, for a large cut or broken bone, an in-person visit is needed.
Seeing a doctor online can be easier and cheaper than in-person urgent care. You can get treated and prescribed medication just like you would at any other urgent care center.
Some of the most common things treated virtually through urgent care are:
For medical problems that do not need physical attention, online urgent care is a great option. Doctors can give consultations and prescriptions over the internet, which can remove even the need to leave your house during a medical issue.
Remember, your first move should be going to a dedicated emergency room if you have a severe medical emergency.
For nonemergencies, booking an appointment with our telehealth partner PlushCare couldn’t be more straightforward. You can book an appointment and speak to a doctor on your phone or computer in just 15 minutes, and they are available seven days a week. Doctors can treat, diagnose, and prescribe medication virtually.
Click here to book an appointment with a doctor.
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