Urgent Care and ClinicsRecognizing the Need
The presence and availability of urgent care and clinics has increased in recent years. Almost all of these centers, 97% according to statistics in 2014, are open to patients seven days a week, and 99% are operational for at least four hours every day. These types of facilities are best for patients who have a medical issue that is not life threatening, but needs to be seen to as soon as possible. For instance, sore throats, minor burns and back pain, itchy eyes, and minor injuries and illnesses are typical complaints that are addressed at an urgent care clinic.
Urgent care and clinics are located in almost every town and city, and are easily found. Patients normally prefer these types of facilities to a hospital emergency room because the wait to be seen at the emergency room can sometimes take hours. The usual wait time at about 60% of urgent care facilities is 15 minutes, with 65% of these facilities having a licensed doctor on the premises whenever they are open. They usually accept most medical insurances and no appointment is necessary in order to be seen.
Typically, a hospital emergency room should be used for situations such as chest pain, difficulty breathing, poisoning, a serious neck, head, or back injury, a high fever in a baby under three months old, uncontrollable bleeding, and more. These are serious, possibly life threatening situations that will probably need the equipment and facilities found within the hospital, but are probably not available at urgent care and clinics. Issues more appropriately seen by medical personnel at an urgent care clinic, in addition to those already mentioned, would be urinary tract infections, cold or flu, sprains, minor back problems, and skin rashes or infections, and the like.
Pediatric urgent care is available in the same way other urgent care and clinics are; however, pediatric urgent care is specifically geared toward illnesses and injuries in children. This is especially helpful when children suddenly become sick during the night, or at a time when parents are not able to get an appointment with the pediatrician. A fall may cause a sprained hand or ankle. Instead of sitting in the waiting room at the hospital emergency room for hours, parents have the option of taking their child to a pediatric urgent care clinic near home. Treatments and services are available that are not unlike those given at the hospital, but the wait will be shorter, and often times children are more comfortable in an atmosphere that is more like their own doctor’s office, rather than the surroundings of a hospital.
In addition to other positives, the cost of treatment at urgent care and clinics is decidedly less than at the emergency room. The average cost of treatment at the hospital could run around $2039, whereas the cost at an urgent care facility will probably run around $226. Urgent care clinics provide the skillful convenient and affordable care that patients need in a fraction of the time and at a fraction of the cost.
Studies have shown that between 44% and 65% of patients treated at emergency rooms could have just as well been treated at urgent care and clinics. In recent years it has been noted that the availability of many primary care physicians has declined, making it necessary for many patients to take advantage of the 24 hour a day opportunity of hospital emergency rooms. Urgent care, which actually began in the 1970′s and suffered a decline through the 1980′s, stepped in recently to fill the gap between primary care and emergency care. Patients were finding that they had no choice but to visit the emergency room for any minor issue and were forced to wait incredible amounts of time and to pay the high costs of emergency room treatment. Professionals running urgent care facilities saw the need and stepped in to provide medical care more appropriate for those in between types of complaints. Patients whose insurance companies now impose upon them super high deductibles are also finding urgent care facilities to be a much more financially comfortable way to seek medical treatment. This, coupled with evening and weekend availability, makes urgent care and clinics the preferred path for most patients to take.