When you hear “urgent care” you might think of urgent care centers, emergency rooms, and dire situations. Conversely, the term “urgent care” might make you think of walk-in clinics such as those you’d find in a drug store.
But healthcare has come a long way, and urgent care clinics have evolved along with it. As of 2016, there were 7,357 urgent care centers in the U.S., according to the Urgent Care Association of America. Here are six myths you probably still believe about urgent care centers.
1. They Are Only Open at Odd Hours
Urgent care centers are often the first thing we think of when we need immediate healthcare services. That can make it seem like urgent care centers are only open at strange hours of the night, or on weekends when doctors are out of the office.
However, urgent care centers are typically open during the day throughout the workweek. They can provide healthcare just like any other facility, not only at odd hours. For example, sports injuries often occur during the day when games and matches take place. Urgent care facilities are often the go-to healthcare option when a sports injury occurs.
2. They Are the Same as an Emergency Room
In the world of healthcare, urgent care centers and emergency rooms often get lumped together in the mind of a patient. It is easy to see where this misunderstanding comes from: both urgent care and emergency rooms are meant to help your urgent healthcare needs. However, urgent care is simply meant for healthcare needs that are not immediately life-threatening, a subtle but important distinction.
Another major difference between the two healthcare facilities is the cost. In many cases, urgent care centers only require you to pay the copay or insurance deductible at the time of your visit. Compared to an emergency room stay, the cost of an urgent care center is the cheaper option.
3. They Are the Same as a Walk-In Clinic
On a similar note, urgent care centers are often viewed as no different from a walk-in clinic. This is also a false impression: walk-in clinics simply do not have the healthcare resources that an urgent care center can provide.
Urgent cares also can provide a wider range of services. An urgent care facility will often rely on X-rays and labs that a walk-in clinic would typically lack on-site.
4. Urgent Care Staff Aren’t as Good as Emergency Room Doctors
While urgent care may not have the full range of healthcare services that would be provided at an emergency room, that does not mean the doctors and staff of an urgent care facility aren’t equipped to handle serious healthcare issues. An urgent care doctor is just as skilled and trained as any other medical professional.
The healthcare staff at an urgent care facility are trained to be able to tell the difference between a situation that is “urgent” and truly life-threatening. If your medical issue is within the scope of what they can do, they will be able to address your healthcare needs in a timely, efficient manner.
5. You Can’t Make an Appointment
A lot of people believe that urgent care facilities are solely comprised of walk-in clinics, but this simply isn’t the case. Depending on what you need, you can make appointments at urgent care centers for certain services. Just be aware that these services may vary from center to center, as each healthcare provider is different. Check with urgent care centers near you to see exactly what you can and can’t schedule.
What Urgent Care Is and Isn’t
Hopefully, this has given you a clearer picture of what urgent care is, and is not, so you can make an informed decision about your healthcare needs. Rely on Care Station Medical Group the next time you’re experiencing an urgent health issue.