Common Questions to Ask About Walk-In Urgent Care Clinic
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Table of Contents:
Do I need an urgent care appointment?
Should I go to urgent care or a primary doctor?
What conditions does urgent care treat?
What type of provider will see me?
Do I need to follow up with the urgent care doctor or my primary care physician?
Urgent care centers do not require patients to make an appointment to see a doctor. They can be a more convenient option for individuals who need to seek immediate medical treatment for a non-life-threatening illness or injury as they operate on a walk-in basis. Urgent care centers will typically operate 7 days a week, with hours extended beyond those of a family doctor’s office hours. It can take a few days and potentially up to a week to get to see a family doctor, making urgent care a quick and easy alternative when a medical condition needs to be seen right away.
The decision to go to urgent care or a primary doctor will be dependent on the nature of the illness or injury. If it is a concern that doesn’t have an immediate need, your primary doctor would be your best bet. It is also worth calling your primary doctor’s office before heading to an urgent care center as your doctor could have an opening or cancellation that would enable them to get you in that day or the next day. However, if you are in a lot of pain or very ill, urgent care would probably be your best bet as they will be able to get you seen by a doctor that day. Urgent care would also be your best bet if you get sick or injured on the weekend or in the evening when your primary doctor’s office is closed.
Urgent care can treat a wide variety of injuries and illnesses that would be treatable through your primary doctor. Most centers have a lab and x-ray facility on site, which allows them to accurately provide a diagnosis on-site without having to send you for additional tests. Depending on your illness or injury, you may need to go for additional tests that can’t be performed in urgent care, but they will do what they can to treat you. Urgent care centers should be able to stitch up open wounds, cast broken bones, and other treatments that your doctor may not be able to perform in the office. If you are unsure what can be treated at the urgent care center closest to you, check their website for services offered, or call them to ask. They can direct you if you need to go to an emergency room instead of urgent care.
Urgent care centers have a rotation of doctors that work on-site to cover the hours that they are open. Typically, you will be triaged by a nurse prior to being seen by the doctor on-site at the time of your visit. The doctor who examines and treats you will be a trained and experienced general practitioner who can treat a vast assortment of illnesses and injuries. They will be familiar with working in a fast-paced environment, as they are often treating multiple patients at a time. Depending on the size of the facility and the time of your visit, there might be more than one doctor on hand, and a doctor will be assigned to you based on their patient load and familiarity with your particular symptoms.
The urgent care doctor will let you know during your visit and treatment what your follow-up plan will look like. If the concern is urgent and you need immediate follow-up, they may recommend you return to the urgent care facility for your follow up as you will be seen right away. If the follow up needed isn’t urgent, they will most likely recommend you make an appointment to follow up with your primary care doctor within a specified amount of time. They will send your file from your visit over to your primary care doctor to ensure your doctor has your complete medical history.
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