When your doctor’s office is closed and you need medical care, where do you turn? There are a few options available when you need to be taken care of quickly. The main options are a walk-in clinic, an urgent care center, or a hospital emergency room. Which medical center should you choose? Here are three options for getting the best convenient medical treatment for you.
Walk In Clinic
Retail walk-in clinics provide affordable and convenient medical treatment. You can generally find them located near a large retail store or pharmacy. These clinics are staffed by physician assistants and nurse practitioners that diagnose and treat conditions such as colds, flu, allergies, strep throat, and earaches. Some also provide vaccinations, health screenings, medical tests, and physicals. These services can be cheaper than an urgent care visit.
Urgent Care Center
Urgent care centers provide the same services as walk-in clinics. However, they also treat conditions that walk-in clinics may not be equipped to handle such as burns and broken bones. Some centers also have X-ray equipment on site. If you need to seek help for a medical issue that is not life-threatening, urgent care is an excellent option for after-hours medical care. While most facilities will allow you to be seen on a walk-in basis, it’s a good idea to call ahead and make an appointment if you can.
During 2015, nearly 12,000 patients were seen by urgent care centers. This equates to three patient visits per hour or 32 on a daily basis. While there may be a small wait, these facilities are still more convenient than making a trip to the emergency room.
If your medical situation is life-threatening, your best option is to head to the emergency room. Although this is the least convenient of the three options, walk-in clinics and urgent care centers are not equipped to handle life and death emergencies. You are guaranteed to be treated even if you don’t have health insurance.
Which convenient medical treatment option you choose will depend greatly on your type of medical situation. If your injury or illness is minor but you don’t want to wait to see your primary doctor, then you should choose a walk-in clinic or urgent care facility. If you think you might need an ambulance, the emergency room is the best choice.