Urgent care facilities and walk in health clinics are part of the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. healthcare industry, and with over 6,800 independent facilities across the country, it isn’t hard to find a medical walk in clinic near you. But many people are still confused about what these urgent care facilities have to offer, and why so many people are choosing to seek medical treatment at these clinics instead of a primary care physician’s office or a hospital emergency room.
Here are just a few services that urgent care facilities can offer, and the medical conditions which they are equipped to treat:
- Because so few doctors’ offices have after-hours care and treatment services — only about 29% do, in fact — urgent care centers most often treat the kinds of illnesses and medical concerns that could be handled at a normal doctor’s office; the benefit of urgent care centers is that they tend to have extended hours, or are opened 24 hours a day, even on weekends.
- Minor injuries that need immediate medical attention can also be treated at your neighborhood health clinic, even if they seem a bit too serious for a regular doctor’s office. The best way to tell if an injury needs treatment at an ER or can be treated quickly at a walk in medical clinic is to decide whether or not the injury is life-threatening. Something like a major broken bone or a possible stroke, for example, will need treatment in a hospital ER; a small fracture or minor burn, on the other hand, can be treated easily at an urgent care clinic.
- Urgent care facilities can also help out with preventative issues, and can provide regular pediatric vaccinations and annual flu shots, lab work, and pre-operative exams. Many family health clinics also often provide services specific for kids and students, like sports physicals and special medical vaccinations for traveling to foreign countries.
Every urgent care health clinic will differ slightly in the services it offers, so it’s definitely a good idea to do some research and find out what your local clinic can provide for you — but in a pinch, nearly every walk in clinic will be able to provide some amount of immediate medical care for you.