5 Perks of Urgent Care over Hospital Emergency Rooms

5 Reasons to Google “Walk-In Clinic near Me” Instead of Go to the ER

When you’re feeling sick or in pain, the choice often comes down to which facility to receive care at: walk-in clinic near me? ER? This guide will help you choose which is right.

Did you know that there’s a corollary to Murphy’s Law called Finagle’s Law of Dynamic Negatives? It says that anything that can go wrong, will—and at the worst possible moment.

That’s definitely true of accidents and illnesses, which tend to strike at the least convenient times. Why does it seem like you come down with the flu or slice your thumb open when you’re on vacation, over a holiday weekend, or in the middle of the night?

walk-in clinic near me

Doctors assistant setting vein access in patient

For a long time, the only option for treatment outside of business hours was the emergency department. As anyone who’s ever waited for hours in an ER knows, it can be a pretty wretched experience.

Nowadays, there’s a great alternative: urgent care. If you’re asking, “Why should I visit a walk-in clinic near me rather than the ER?,” read on! We’ve got five very good reasons.

1. Shorter Wait Times

Urgent care facilities, also called walk in-clinics or minute clinics, treat injuries and illnesses that aren’t life-threatening.

When you visit the ER with something like a UTI or minor laceration, you might get shunted aside in favor of patients with more serious issues. These could be heart attacks, strokes, gun shot wounds, and more.

In essence, an ER means a long wait. Only once all the critical patients have been seen will a doctor be able to sew up your cut or prescribe some antibiotics for you.

At an walk-in clinic, you’ll get seen shortly after you arrive. Although there may be a few patients ahead of you, the wait won’t be nearly as long. And many clinics allow you to make an appointment, making the experience even more convenient.

2. Lower Out-of-Pocket Costs

Have you ever visited the emergency room when you didn’t have health insurance? If so, you won’t soon forget the sticker shock.

People tend to think of ambulance rides as a public service that’s paid for with tax dollars (and in some instances that’s true).

But most of the time, an uninsured patient who calls an ambulance for emergency treatment will pay several hundreds of dollars—if not, thousands. That’s even before you get to the hospital!

Most urgent care centers accept insurance. But even for the uninsured, the costs are likely to be a lot lower than any other option.

3. It’s One-Stop Shopping

When you leave the emergency department of a hospital, you’re probably going to do so with a sheaf of referral paperwork in your hands. You might have to get blood work done or X-rays taken, or see a specialist. And of course you’ll need to stop by the pharmacy to pick up any medications you may have gotten prescribed.

Walk-in clinics generally have all the services you’ll need right on site. You can get lab work and X-rays done right then and there. Often you’ll get your prescription filled at the clinic, too.

That means you won’t need to worry about driving all over town, finding expensive parking spots, and waiting your turn at other facilities. With urgent care, you walk in, get everything taken care of on-site, and walk back out again.

4. Asking, “Is There a Walk-In Clinic Near Me?” (Spoiler Alert: Yes!)

Emergency departments are, by definition, attached to hospitals.

Depending on the area where you live, hospitals can be few and far between. Sometimes they are in the suburbs, making them less accessible to people who depend on public transportation. Other times, they’re located in city neighborhoods that are neither easy to navigate nor particularly safe.

Urgent care facilities, being smaller, can be in strip malls, shopping centers, or freestanding buildings.

If your medical issue is minor—a rash or a lingering cough, for example—it’s easy to fit a trip to the clinic into your everyday errands.

Of course, when you have something like a laceration or sprain, you want to get medical care quickly without having to travel a long distance.

5. They Offer Routine Services

Particularly if you are a new patient, it can take weeks to get an appointment with a primary care physician. What happens if you need a service sooner than that—say, your child requires a physical to start a new school or play a sport?

This is another area where urgent care facilities shine. Many of them provide routine services like physicals, STD testing, X-rays, lab tests, and even occupational medicine.

Rather than waiting for days or even weeks to see your doctor, stop by an urgent care clinic. Get these needs taken care of with minimal wait time and for a minimal charge. You can even book an appointment to ensure that you waste as little of your precious time as possible.

What Urgent Care Won’t Treat

It’s also important to understand what services aren’t offered at a walk-in clinic.

Although many of them have a physician on premises, it’s likely that you will get seen by a nurse, nurse practitioner, or physician’s assistant. Those professionals provide great care for minor issues, but they won’t be able to diagnose complex cases or offer specialized medicine.

We’re talking about things like:

  • Chest pain
  • Problems bleeding
  • Serious lacerations or stabbings
  • Gunshot wounds
  • Serious allergic reactions
  • Compound fractures
  • Burns
  • Seizures
  • Concussions or other head injuries
  • Eye injuries

If you have a life-threatening accident or a medical emergency, the ER is still the best place for you.

The Takeaway

For minor issues like mild to moderate flu symptoms, fevers, ear infections, sore throats, chest congestion, and so on, try a Google search for “walk-in clinic near me.”

By visiting urgent care, you’ll get seen quickly, pay less money, and get all of your medical needs taken care of under one roof. What’s not to love?

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