Urgent care clinics serve an important function in healthcare. Whether you're between physicians or you get sick on a weekend when your physician isn't available, an urgent care clinic can often help you get through a minor medical emergency -- without the expense of a visit to the local emergency room.
However, when an unexpected medical issue comes up, you should know what to do in order to get the best possible outcome from your urgent care visit. Here's what you need to do:
Look for a Clinic With a Physician on Duty
Unless you only have one option in your area -- which is unlikely -- it pays to be careful which clinic you choose. It's important to keep in mind that some urgent care centers, particularly those inside pharmacies, don't usually have a physician on duty. While the care you receive from a nurse practitioner can be perfectly fine for many conditions, you may want to look for an urgent care center with a full-time physician on duty.
Check Your Insurance Before You Go
It's helpful to do this while you're well so that you don't have to try to do this when you're sick and in need of treatment. Make a list of the urgent care centers near your home and job so that you know which ones your insurance covers.
Once you find a good urgent care clinic, stick with that clinic in the future whenever you have a need. That's the easiest way to ensure consistent care and avoid errors.
Make Sure That an Urgent Care Clinic Suits Your Need
What's the difference between a condition that needs urgent care and a condition that needs to be treated in an emergency room? Generally speaking, the severity of your problem.
You wouldn't be seeking urgent care if you weren't seeing an immediate need for treatment, but urgent care visits are best for conditions that are just developing or ones that are easy to identify and treat.
If, for example, you are just developing what seems to be a sinus infection or cold, a quick visit to an urgent care center can get you the medication you need to prevent the illness from getting drastically worse and increase your comfort level while you recover. On the other hand, if you've been sick for a few days and suddenly develop trouble breathing, it's wiser to head to the emergency room where broader diagnostic tools and treatments are available.
Take the Right Things With You to Your Visit
Don't walk into an urgent care clinic empty-handed. Aside from your ID, your insurance card, and your method of payment, you should also have:
- A list of all your current medications, including dosage
- A list of any known drug allergies you have
- The names of your medical conditions, if you have any
It also helps to take along a friend or family member, particularly if your illness is interfering with your ability to concentrate. The person you bring along can help answer the physician's questions and help you keep track of what you're supposed to do following the visit.
Urgent care services, such as from 75th St Injury & Illness Center, can be ideal. They offer convenient, low-cost medical treatment that can really make a difference in your life when you're having a medical issue and don't feel quite sick enough to go to the hospital but still need treatment. Just take the right steps to ensure that you get the most out of your visit by preparing ahead of time.