No one likes to get sick, but when you do, where should you go for help? With all the choices out there, it can be helpful to known when an urgent care clinic is the right choice for you.
First things first
Before you venture to an urgent care clinic, you should first reach out to your primary care provider. That doctor has access to your complete medical record. Knowing your history, she can offer you appropriate treatment and continuity of care if you need follow-up. She can also let you know if you should seek care at another location, such as an urgent care clinic or an emergency room.
What is an urgent care clinic?
An urgent care clinic is a medical facility that provides care for acute illnesses and injuries. These clinics may be staffed by physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners or any combination of the above. If you are unable to see your primary care provider for any reason, an urgent care clinic is a good choice in certain situations. Be aware that they generally do not manage chronic medical problems.
What can an urgent care clinic treat?
Common conditions treated at an urgent care clinic include but are not limited to:
- Asthma flare-ups
- Broken bones and muscle sprains
- Bronchitis and pneumonia
- Coughs, colds and flu
- Cuts and lacerations
- Diarrhea and vomiting
- Ear, sinus and/or throat infections
- Poison ivy and other rashes
- Skin infections
- Urinary infections
A visit to the urgent care clinic could get you on the mend faster.
Not all urgent care clinics are the same
Urgent care clinics are cropping up across the country. They can be an excellent resource for care if you cannot be seen by your regular doctor on any given day. However, they are not all equipped the same. Some may offer x-rays; some may offer IV fluids; some may offer joint injections. That being the case, some may offer only basic services.
Depending on your medical needs, you may want to call ahead to make sure that the clinic has the tools needed to take care of you. For example, if you think you broke your leg, you would be better suited to go to a facility that had the ability to take x-rays.
When an urgent care is not the right choice
There is a common misconception that an urgent care clinic can do everything an emergency room can do. This is not the case. They simply do not have access to all the resources that a hospital does. Making the wrong choice could delay your care and in some cases that delay could lead to serious complications. If you think you are having a heart attack or stroke, you should go directly to an emergency room where there are more resources to address these problems.
TapGenes Take Away: Can’t get in to see your regular doctor for a sick visit? An urgent care clinic might be the right choice for you. Here’s when to go to urgent care.
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