The debate on whether a walk in clinic such as urgent care is really the same as an emergency room has been going on for quite some time now. Many say that emergency care can only be sufficiently provided within the confines of an emergency room, but others argue that urgent care centers are the answer to the problem of ER overcrowding. So which side is right? Read on for a few questions to ask about which option is right for you.
Is it Life-Threatening?
If any injury or sickness you have is life-threatening, you should never go to an urgent care. While they are great facilities with trained professionals, some issues need to always be treated at an emergency room. Again, if an injury is life-threatening in any way, head straight for the emergency room, no matter what. Emergency care is your only option here.
Is it After Hours for Your Regular Doctor?
If you have a cold, flu, cut, burn, or you need STD testing, Hazmat testing, or the like, urgent care can help. Many people end up in an ER simply because it is past the time their normal doctor is open, but urgent care is another great option. As many as 85% of their facilities are open seven days per week, and 95% close after seven in the evening. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 129.8 million people go to an ER every year, and the majority could have been seen at urgent care instead. In addition, it’s probably easier to go to urgent care! About 69% of their centers boast a wait time of less than 20 minutes.
When in Doubt, Call Ahead
If you’re not sure where you should go, or if a walk in clinic is an option, call! They can help you quickly figure out what option is best for you so that you can be treated!