Insight Urgent Care – When you have a non-life-threatening health situation that needs attention right away, urgent care is an ideal choice for most people. Not only is urgent care convenient and widely accessible, but it also provides many of the same services you would have otherwise received at an emergency care center for a fraction of the cost and waiting time.
Whether you have cold and flu symptoms or a sprained ankle and need care fast, here are eight things you should know before visiting an urgent care center.
Know the Right Location for Your Needs
If you or a loved one needs immediate treatment for an illness or injury, it may be difficult to determine whether you should visit urgent care or an emergency room. Urgent care centers offer walk-in care, convenient hours, and are equipped to handle a variety of medical problems. However, emergency rooms are equipped to handle life-threatening symptoms or conditions that require advanced treatment. Use the following guide to help you determine if urgent care or emergency care is right for your situation.
Visit urgent care for:
- Moderate cold and flu symptoms
- Persistent diarrhea and vomiting
- Small cuts
- Sprains and strains
Visit the emergency room for:
- Chest pain or difficulty breathing
- Weakness or numbness on one side
- Slurred speech
- Broken bones or dislocated joints
- Severe cuts or lacerations
- Severe cold and flu symptoms
Know What to Bring With You
Urgent care centers are not the same as your family doctor’s office and may not have access to your medical history. In order to receive the best care possible, patients are reminded to come prepared with important medical information, including any prescription medications you may be taking, medical diagnoses, allergies, and vaccination records. You should also bring a form of identification, insurance cards, emergency contact information, and any questions you may have.
Know The Best Time to Go
Most urgent care centers are open seven days a week and offer convenient after-hours service. However, due to the walk-in setting of urgent care, patients are usually seen on a first-come first served basis. The average wait time for an urgent care visit is approximately 45 minutes, but wait times can be longer in the early morning and late afternoon hours when people are getting out of work or school. If you can, try to visit urgent care in the late morning or early afternoon to avoid longer wait times and crowded waiting rooms. Many providers also offer online services to check in and view wait times for your convenience.
Know That Urgent Care is Cost-Effective
A visit to the emergency room can be very expensive – even with insurance. The average cost for emergency care in 2022 was $2,200 for patients without health insurance. A visit to urgent care for the same treatment is a fraction of the cost, with most people paying no more than $200 per visit on average. Before you make a healthcare decision, familiarize yourself with your insurance plan. Depending on your coverage, urgent care is sometimes fully covered or you may have a copay.
Know You May Not Be Seen By a Doctor
When you visit an urgent care center, you may not see a doctor. Most urgent care centers are staffed by nurse practitioners who work alongside board-certified physicians. Nurse practitioners work closely with physicians to diagnose and treat a wide range of illnesses and conditions, often consulting with them in real-time to provide the highest levels of patient care. Like physicians, nurse practitioners are also licensed healthcare providers with graduate degrees, clinical training, and board certifications.
Know You Still Need a Primary Care Provider
Although urgent care can provide fast, quality care when you experience an unexpected illness or injury, it is not a replacement for a primary care provider. Establishing a relationship with a primary care physician is essential to managing your day-to-day health needs, including coordinating care, preventing and controlling chronic conditions, managing medications, discussing health screenings, and staying up to date on your immunizations. If you do not have an established primary care physician when you visit urgent care, your provider can connect you with one for follow up appointments and continuity of care.
Know What Services Urgent Care Provides
Not all urgent care centers are the same. Smaller locations may only offer basic services, whereas larger urgent care centers provide imaging, pediatric urgent care, lab services, and on-demand occupational medicine and orthopedic care.
Know Their Reputation In The Community
Before you make a decision on which urgent care center to visit, take time to research locations in your community. Whether you read reviews online or ask your family and friends for recommendations, choosing a location with a sterling reputation will give you peace of mind knowing you are getting the highest-quality care available.
When you need care for an injury or illness, it can be difficult to know where to go, what to bring, and what to expect. For most non-life-threatening situations, urgent care can be the right choice. From convenience and affordability to the wide range of services available, urgent care centers play an essential role in helping people get the care they need when a primary care doctor is not available. Insight Urgent Care & Occupational Medicine provides safe, quality care from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. 365 days a year. Contact us at 810-213-8144 to learn more about our services or visit us at our Flint, Michigan location today.
Q: What is the difference between primary care and urgent care?
A: Primary care and urgent care both play an important role in your healthcare, but serve different purposes. A primary care physician is the first point of contact for all of your healthcare needs and is responsible for monitoring your health, diagnosing and treating illnesses or conditions, and coordinating your care with specialists. Urgent care offers walk-in care for immediate medical needs when you are unable to see a PCP.
Q: How do I know if I should go to urgent care or call 911?
A: It is not always obvious when an injury is life-threatening and many people are reluctant to call 911. In general, you should call for help any time you are not comfortable with a medical situation. Serious injury from an accident, heart attack or stroke symptoms, trouble breathing, unconsciousness, head trauma, and uncontrolled bleeding are just a few common reasons to call 911.
Q: Can children be treated at urgent care?
A: Yes. Children can be treated at urgent care centers for minor, non-life-threatening illnesses or injuries. However, the Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) does not recommend urgent care for children under the age of two.