When experiencing a situation in which medical care is needed after the doctor’s office closes, many people go to a local emergency. However, emergency rooms become overloaded, with long wait times and higher costs. Rather than place an excessive burden on emergency room services, consider using an after hours urgent care center for medical situations needing immediate care that are not life threatening.
Emergency Care Services
Emergency rooms are available around the clock for immediate care in life-threatening situations. However, emergency departments are often backlogged with situations that can be handled effectively by urgent care centers. Nearly 80 percent of those who use the emergency room for medical services do so because of lack of other available options and not necessarily for emergency situations. When the doctor’s office is closed, those who are not experiencing a medical emergency should look into the availability of after hours urgent care centers.
Services at After Hours Urgent Care Centers
Urgent care centers can treat minor to moderate injuries, illness, and infections, including:
- Back pain
- Cuts and lacerations
- Minor burns
- Upper respiratory infections
- Colds and flu
- Sore throats
- Ear infections
- Strains and sprains
- Possible broken bones
- Animal bites
There are many other medical issues requiring immediate care that can be treated at an urgent care center. Many urgent care centers also offer services such as physical exams, vaccinations, and other services typically offered by a primary care physician.
Benefits of Using an After Hours Urgent Care Center over an Emergency Room
Urgent care is less expensive than emergency department visits, offers less waiting time to be treated, and can treat many of the same conditions as emergency rooms. This is because many urgent care centers have imaging, lab work, and prescription facilities on site, expanding diagnosis and treatment options. At least 25 percent and perhaps up to 80 percent of those who visited the emergency room in a given year could have been effectively treated by an after hours urgent care center.
How to Choose between Urgent Care and Emergency Department Services
Those experiencing a medical condition requiring immediate care should consider whether or not the situation is life threatening. When unsure, it is best to go to an emergency department for treatment. However, if the problem could be treated by a primary care physician or needs urgent attention that is not life threatening, choose an urgent care center. Seek emergency care or call 911 for chest pain, difficulty breathing, uncontrollable bleeding, severe abdominal pain, severe head trauma, loss of consciousness, sudden or severe pain, and other issues that could signal a serious or life-threatening condition.
Visiting an after hours urgent care center is not only convenient and affordable, but it can free time for physicians in order to treat patients suffering from life threatening ailments. Being treated by an urgent care facility is an effective way to be treated quickly for non-life threatening issues, and it may even save a life in the emergency room.