Should You Go to an Urgent Care Clinic or Hospital?

Bellevue urgent care

Almost all of us at some time have experienced medical situations in which we weren’t sure whether to go to the ER or an urgent care clinic. What warrants a trip to the emergency room, and what can be treated at a walk in clinic?

While your first thought may be to visit the ER, you might be better off going to your local urgent care clinic. They are open more often than you may think. In fact, 85% of them are open seven days a week. According to the Urgent Care Association of America, approximately 3 million patients visit urgent care clinics each week.

Some walk in health clinics have more technology and capabilities than others. In fact, four out of five urgent care clinics offer care for fractures. However, in 2012, the most common diagnosis was upper respiratory conditions, while doctors most commonly performed wound repair.

A walk in health clinic can help with a variety of injuries and conditions. Doctors can help with fevers, infections, sore throats, lacerations, sports injuries, back pain, ankle sprains, insect bites, pink eye, pneumonia, and much more. Basically, if you get sick or injured, and your regular doctor is unavailable, an urgent care clinic is a good alternative. Plus, urgent care clinics are typically less crowded and cost less.

Many walk in health clinics also offer screenings, tests, and vaccines for children and adults. Those seeking convenience can get flu shots, STD and HIV tests, TB tests, employment tests, health screenings, and more.

While urgent care clinics offer many services, there are times when you should seek emergency room care instead. Your nearest walk in clinic is not equipped with life-saving devices. Therefore, if your condition is life-threatening, such as chest pain or breathing difficulties, you should see an ER doctor. Also, sudden weakness, deep cuts, broken bones, serious burns, and seizures warrant a trip to the ER.

Note that a walk in health clinic is not an emergency room. Ideally, you should try your primary care doctor first, since he or she knows your health history best. But if you do have a non-emergency medical situation, keep in mind that urgent care clinics are here to help.

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