If you are unfortunate enough to sustain an injury during an evening, weekend or holiday, when it is likely that your regular doctor’s office is closed, you may be faced with long lines and a large bill at the emergency room. However, you have the option to visit an after hours urgent care center in the event that you injure yourself when your primary physician is not available to treat you.
After hours urgent care centers have been springing up around the country for many years, and with good reason. They serve to fill the void between the doctor’s office and hospital emergency department. Most are open 7 days a week and well into the evening. And more importantly, they are much less expensive than emergency rooms.
Faster Service for Minor Injuries, Illnesses and Vaccines
Hospital emergency facilities are required to have large staffs on duty to take care of many patients at any given time, and the level of care they must provide is quite high. Hospitals with a trauma center are even larger, better equipped, better staffed, and of course more expensive to operate. While these attributes are wonderful for seriously ill people or victims of car/train/airplane accidents, they constitute gross overkill for the much more common minor complaints such as flu, skin lacerations, sprains and strains, and other non-life threatening conditions.
Urgent care facilities are targeted toward those minor illnesses and injuries that happen to all of us in the course of our everyday lives. Among the conditions they commonly treat are colds and the flu; eye and ear infections; cuts and scrapes; sprains, strains, and broken bones; accidents involving sports, kitchens, and the workplace; childhood illnesses and fevers; urinary tract infections; and gastrointestinal upsets. Some urgent care clinics also function as travel clinics where you can receive immunizations prior to a trip abroad.
A typical visit to a hospital emergency room can, especially in larger cities, involve waiting several hours or even an entire day to be seen. This is mainly due to two factors: serious illnesses and injuries are always given higher priority than more minor conditions; and far too many people use the emergency room instead of urgent care facilities, either because they are uninsured and have no way to pay, or because they simply don’t know that urgent care can help them.
Because most states require urgent care clinics to have a defibrillator, X-ray equipment, and in-house laboratory capabilities, they are well equipped to handle the vast majority of everyday problems that walk through their doors. In the event that one of their patients requires a higher level of care than they can provide, they will expedite the patient’s transfer to an appropriate emergency room or trauma center.
Insurance companies are happy to foot the bill for urgent care clinic use because this costs far less than the equivalent care at a fully staffed and equipped hospital emergency room. And if you happen to be uninsured, you will be better suited financially by choosing this more economical alternative.
If you should become ill or receive an injury after hours, it is wise to consider visiting an urgent care clinic in order to receive fast and affordable service even during inconvenient times of the day.