Urgent care clinics are popping up all over the United States. The reason is simple, there is a real need for after hours care that is not an emergency room. People who forgo the emergency room and go to a walk in health clinicc save money and time. The average wait in an emergency room ranges from a few minutes to over 20 hours, while most people (about 70%) who go to an after hours clinic wait less than a half hour.
Consider these facts. Every year, nearly 130 million people go to emergency rooms around the country. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said that many of these people could have been seen in a walk in health clinic. One of the issues is the timing of the onset of an illness or an injury. While many people would like to see their family health clinic, but about 70% of these offices do not offer after hours care so they go to the emergency room. Seeing as over 85% of walk in clinics have some open time seven days a week, they are a real option for people who become ill or suffer an injury over the weekend. About 95% of walk in clinics remain open after 7:00 pm and nearly 70% open before 9:00 am.
There are times when it is absolutely critical to call 911 or go to an emergency room and not go to a walk in health clinic. The following are some examples but if you are unsure, you should call your primary care physician and this is a good reason to have one who knows you well.
You should go to the emergency room in cases of:
- Extreme chest pain.
- A head injury with loss of consciousness.
- A seizure lasting longer than three minutes.
- A severe burn.
- Rapid onset confusion.
- Serious bleeding.
- Smoke inhalation.
- Serious trouble breathing.
- Any broken bone, especially if it is sticking out of the skin.
This list does not include everything so if you are unsure, again, call your doctor?s office.
Here are some things that can be treated at a walk in clinic.
- Common ailments. These include upper respiratory infections, low grade fevers, sore throats and ear aches. Most people who go to a walk in health clinic are diagnosed with an upper respiratory infection.
- More minor injuries. Strains, sprains, broken fingers and toes and small eye injuries can all be treated at a walk in clinic.
Many people do not know what a walk in health clinic is and that is why they go to the emergency room. Others think going to the emergency room is the only way to get their family care for certain conditions because they cannot take them during work hours. A walk in clinic does not exist to replace care received at a primary care practice or emergency room but to get people care for simple issues after normal business hours.