Many cities have urgent care clinics available for those who suffer from minor injuries or illnesses. Due to the fact that minor health emergencies occur every day and normally at the most inopportune times, many families prefer to visit an urgent medical care facility for their health needs. Emergency rooms are not always the best choice for families, especially those who are on a tight budget. Urgent medical care facilities offer families a place to receive proper care during the evenings and on weekends.
According to the American Academy of Urgent Care Medicine (AAUCM), approximately 9,300 urgent care centers are scattered across the United States, with 700 to 800 new clinics opening up every year. Urgent medical care centers treat common illnesses and injuries, such as ear infections, colds, back pain, and cuts, in addition to operating X-ray machines and performing blood, drug, and urine tests. The Urgent Care Association of America reported that approximately three million patients visit urgent care centers every week.
Why Families Choose Urgent Care Centers
Many families are visiting urgent care centers instead of the emergency room or their family doctors due to the fact that they wish to avoid the long waits as well as the convenience of weekend and evening hours. AAUCM explains that only 29 percent of all primary care providers offer after-hour coverage, and patients typically need to wait 30 minutes or more before seeing a doctor for their health needs. Many families believe that urgent medical care facilities offer a better option to the emergency room for any immediate, non-emergency healthcare needs.
While urgent care centers offer a variety of medical services, doctors are not equipped to perform surgery or other life-threatening emergencies; however, the doctor on staff will send those suffering from a life-threatening emergency to a hospital. Many times, families will choose to visit an urgent care center, which can cost approximately $100, before they go to the emergency room due to the fact that emergency room costs can quickly escalate to more than twice that amount. With the stagnant economy forcing families to spend their money wisely, families are choosing urgent medical care facilities as their primary choice for their healthcare needs.
What Can Be Treated at Urgent Care Facilities
Services offered at urgent care centers often consist of cases that do not require the use of hospital-grade attention and equipment. A 2010 study performed by Rand Corporation showed that nearly one in every five emergency room cases could be treated at an urgent care center.
The doctor on staff is usually a general practitioner or family doctor, and treatments can include:
- Common illnesses, such as a fever, cold, or strep
- Pregnancy testing
- Laceration repairs
- Burn evaluations and care
- Eye injuries
- Skin problems, such as infections, rashes, and allergies
- Musculoskeletal injury evaluations
Many families seek the treatment at urgent medical care centers, knowing that the doctors and physician assistants are properly trained in the medical field. According to AAUCM, an estimated 20,000 physician’s practice medicine at urgent cares across the nation, and with the Affordable Care Act taking effect in 2014, that number is predicted to grow. With 32 million new individuals obtaining health coverage in 2014, experts are predicting that many more families will be seeking healthcare at an urgent medical care facility.