Before choose an Urgent Care facilities 10 things you should know. Take an example Picture two people, John and James, riding their bikes down a hill. Suddenly, an animal darts across the road, and the two take a tumble. John sustains a compound fracture in his right leg, while James sprains his left wrist and breaks two fingers. One of them needs emergency care, while the other needs urgent care. Can you guess which one needs which?

John and James both have bad injuries, but only one of those injuries is life-threatening: the compound fracture. As such, John needs to be rushed to the emergency room before his exposed wounds become infected. James, who is in a lot of pain, also needs immediate care, which is why he is rushed to an urgent care facility for his sprained wrist and broken fingers.

This example explains the difference between urgent care and emergency care succinctly. Emergency care becomes necessary in the wake of a life-threatening injury such as a compound fracture, which exposes the bone and the surrounding muscles, and potentially severed blood vessels, to infection, and can very well lead to the patient bleeding out.

Broken fingers cause a lot of pain and discomfort, but they are not necessarily life-threatening. This is why what James needs is urgent care; his wounds need immediate attention, but his life is not in danger.

People get the two mixed up a lot, but there is a very clear distinction between urgent care and emergency care, as you can see.

When Do I Need Emergency Care

To put it plainly, emergency care is necessary when there is a life-threatening medical condition such as the following:

  • Severe chest pains that last longer than two minutes
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Injuries to the head, neck, and back
  • Skull fractures
  • Internal bleeding
  • Gunshot wounds
  • Deep stab wounds
  • Seizures, convulsions, and loss of consciousness
  • Out of control bleeding
  • Poisoning
  • Severe pain in the abdomen
  • Symptoms of stroke (sudden numbness, loss of vision, slurred speech, confusion)
  • Suicidal or homicidal thoughts
  • Severe pregnancy complications
why choose an urgent care facilities
A lot of people wonder, “Why do I need urgent care when I can go to the doctor’s office or the emergency room if I’m feeling unwell?” The reason why urgent care is a good alternative to both primary care centers and the emergency room is that they offer a wide range of medical services, often at a more reasonable price. What’s more, many of them are available 24 hours a day, so you can get emergency medical attention without the exorbitant cost that comes with visiting an emergency room.

Still, most people have doubts about the capabilities of urgent care facilities. Questions like “will my insurance cover this?” and “can their physicians handle emergencies like at the E.R.?” and “do they have all the equipment to handle such and such condition?” often trouble the minds of people looking for a reliable Urgent care facility.

The answer to these questions varies depending on the particular center you choose. Some may have all the equipment you’d find at a primary care clinic and emergency room; others may not. It’s all dependent on the specific Urgent care center, which is all the more reason to do your research carefully when choosing an Urgent Care provider.

Why the Emergency Room May Not Always be the Best Option

The E.R. is for Real Emergencies

The E.R. is for Real Emergencies Only

The emergency room should only be an option when someone’s life is in danger. Accidents and conditions that don’t lead to life-threatening symptoms of injuries don’t necessarily require emergency services, although they may need to be attended to as soon as possible.

A good example is a cut that’s deep enough to need stitches but is not bleeding heavily. Normally, you would go to a doctor’s office for that, but most doctors can only be seen by appointment, or you’ll have to wait in line until they can attend to you.

In contrast, an urgent care center can attend to you immediately you walk through their door with a problem. They can also make house calls or offer emergency transit if you request it.

It is Expensive

Depending on the scale of the emergency, visiting the E.R. can cost you a huge chunk of money. That’s because emergency services cover the ambulance ride, resuscitation measures, surgical procedures, life support equipment, and a lot more, some of which might not fall under your insurance coverage. This is why you should only go to the E.R. when it’s a real emergency, and save the little emergencies for the urgent care center.

Sometimes your Insurance Coverage is not enough

As we’ve mentioned, not everything on your E.R. bill will be covered by your insurance policy, and in some cases, you might find yourself paying for your medical bills. An urgent care center is a more affordable option when you have a medical emergency that needs immediate attention but is not necessarily critical.

When Do I Need Urgent Care

Urgent care should be administered under the following circumstances:

  • Deep cuts that need stitches (but are not bleeding heavily)
  • Mild to moderate breathing issues, especially those related to asthma
  • Moderate back pain
  • Severe coughing and sore throat
  • Accidents that result in mild to moderate injuries
  • Sprains
  • Diagnostic services (x-rays, scans, lab tests)
  • Diarrhea, vomiting, and extreme dehydration
  • Fevers and flu
  • Irritation and redness of the eye
  • Skin infections

5 Common Myths about Urgent Care

Myths about Urgent Care

1. Urgent care is expensive

In most cases, urgent care services fall under the scope of health insurance coverage. It is only under special circumstances that you will have to pay out of pocket. The misconception that urgent care is expensive perhaps stems from the fact that it’s not traditional primary care, and it doesn’t qualify as an emergency service either. However, that doesn’t mean that urgent care costs more.

2. Emergency care can replace urgent care

While emergency care is crucial in life-threatening situations, it tends to cost a lot of money. Some emergency medical services may not be covered by your insurance. However, in a life or death situation, the main concern is saving the patient. That’s not usually the case with urgent care, which is often fully covered by your healthcare insurance.

You can’t replace urgent care with emergency care because the chances of being in a dire medical situation are slim compared to those of needing urgent medical care in a situation that’s not life-threatening.

3. You can’t access urgent care without insurance

Although many services offered by urgent care facilities will fall under your insurance coverage, you can still elect to pay for them yourself. Urgent care facilities sometimes offer primary care services that can be paid for without involving your insurance provider.

4. Urgent care centers are under-equipped

Contrary to this myth, urgent care facilities tend to be very well-equipped, especially as far as diagnostic equipment is concerned. In a situation where one needs medical care urgently, diagnostics play a significant role, especially when the problem is not immediately obvious? The facilities often have well-equipped laboratories as well as x-ray machines, MRI scanners, and a host of other diagnostic equipment.

5. All urgent care services are only accessible by appointment

Unlike most primary care facilities, urgent care centers don’t usually require an appointment for admission. You can walk into any urgent care facility and receive immediate care even without booking an appointment. It is for this reason that they are ideal for non-critical injuries that need immediate attention.

Choosing an Urgent Care Facility: 10 Things You Should Know

If you’re looking for an urgent care facility, you need to think about a few things. The apparent considerations include the area, distance, and availability of the facility. You don’t want to be too far from one in case you’re stuck with an emergency at odd hours.

Other considerations involve your personal preferences, health needs, age, and current medical state.

1. Proximity (Location)

How close should your urgent care center be? As close as possible. Make sure it is at least within driving distance, and that you can reach it quickly, even in distress. Ensure the area is accessible both by car and by public transportation. It doesn’t have to be walking distance from your home, but having it nearby doesn’t hurt, especially when you need medical services on the double.

2. Operating Hours

In many cases, urgent care centers run like ER’s—that means they run a 24-hour schedule—but in some cases, they do not. 24-hour accessibility should be a deciding attribute because you never know when you’ll need urgent medical attention. If not possible, find a facility that operates during off-peak hours. At least then, you’ll always have the option.

3. Patient Group

Some facilities offer pediatric care only; others deal with geriatrics. Make sure you find the right center for your age group. Most of them, fortunately, offers primary care services for the general population, so you won’t encounter many problems looking for one that will cater to your urgent medical needs.

4. Admission Policy

How do you book appointments? Do you need to call in advance, or can you walk in and get assigned to the next available physician? This consideration is essential. You don’t want to be turned back without help because you failed to meet their admission requirements. Some urgent care facilities will admit you without any prior appointment. Others need you to call at least a few hours in advance.

5. Available Medical Services

Get a comprehensive list of the available medical services at any urgent care center before opting for their services. Make sure that what they offer covers at least 80 % of the urgent medical needs you may have or medical services that you will otherwise be unable to access quickly at your nearest primary care facility.

6. Insurance Coverage

One of the most important considerations to make before choosing an urgent care facility is this. How much does your insurance policy cover? Does it include visits and other emergency medical services? Will you be able to access urgent medical care without paying out of pocket? Not many urgent care facilities work with insurance companies, so finding one that does is a huge step when choosing the right urgent care facility.

7. Amenities

Your urgent care facility should at least have the basic amenities to handle simple wounds and non-escalating medical conditions like the flu and stomach problems. It is not necessary for them to possess equipment for complex medical procedures like organ surgery. However, they should be able to handle fairly simple procedures like appendicitis or at least refer you to a hospital that can. Pay close attention to the amenities that are available at the urgent care facility you choose.

8. Medical Affiliations

If a medical condition escalates to a point where it’s beyond the capabilities of the physicians at the urgent care center, they should be able to refer you to a good hospital. Therefore, picking a facility that’s affiliated with good local hospitals should be a priority when choosing an urgent care facility.

9. Reputation

Ask for recommendations in your area if you don’t know where to start. The reputation of an urgent care facility is an important consideration too. Are they known to handle complex medical conditions? Do they offer home visits as well as emergency transit services? Do they work with insurance companies? Word of mouth is a good reference for knowing the quality of medical services offered by an urgent care facility. Find as much information as you can before choosing an urgent care facility that suits you.

10. Accessibility

Here’s an important yet often overlooked consideration when it comes to choosing the right urgent care facility: how accessible are their premises? Do they offer handicap parking? Are their bathrooms, for instance, adapted to use by the handicapped? Is it easy to get around their premises in a wheelchair? Ask all these questions and more before selecting an urgent care facility. This should especially be a priority if you or your family member is physically disabled.

Conclusion

Not many people think of urgent care as a necessity. That’s understandable considering that hospitals and emergency rooms provide adequate medical care for most people.

Nevertheless, some groups of people need urgent medical care as a cost effective way of managing existing conditions. For instance, a person with asthma may need to have access to quick and affordable medical care in the event of an asthma attack. Similarly, geriatric patients, particularly those that are bedridden, may benefit from house calls from urgent care physicians in the event of a medical emergency. The same goes for young children with conditions like heart disease and diabetes.

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