There is no question that hospitals provide the quality of care that can save a person’s life. That’s why they’re there, after all. However, hospitals aren’t the only option you have when you need urgent medical attention. In several cases, you might actually be better off seeking medical care elsewhere and skipping the hospital altogether.
Urgent care facilities are staffed with knowledgeable medical professionals who can deliver comprehensive treatment when the hospital just isn’t the most logical choice. If an injury is not life-threatening, you’re better off heading to an urgent care center, believe it or not.
Here are three situations where you may want to visit an urgent care facility over your local ER.
- Minor bone breaks and fractures.
Unless there is severe trauma, most urgent care centers (80%) can skillfully take care of a broken bone or fracture. Just like hospitals have, the average urgent care facility also has x-ray machines to fully assess the location and complexity of the break. After determining the best course of action, medical professionals can then make cast or splint just as doctors would in the ER.
If you go to the hospital for a minor break or fracture, you’ll most likely be waiting a long time. Although your break may be extremely painful, more serious injuries will take priority. On the other hand, a full 60% of urgent care centers have a wait time of 15 minutes or less.
- Flu and flu symptoms.
Sometimes, people without health insurance or a primary care doctor will go to the hospital to seek relief for flu-like symptoms. This is another instance where it might be smart to skip the ER. Again, patients with more severe problems take priority over cold and flu sufferers.
To avoid excruciatingly long waits, go to an urgent care facility. The physicians can diagnose you properly if you actually do have the flu. In fact, seven in ten urgent care centers are equipped with intravenous fluids if you’re suffering from dehydration and vomiting (as any hospital would).
- Severe cough or sore throat.
When a sore throat or cough just won’t go away, you might want to seek medical attention to be sure it isn’t something serious. Although your first reaction might be to head to the ER, you’ll encounter the same problems facing flu sufferers. Urgent care clinics have the equipment and laboratories needed to test for and diagnose a host of illnesses such as sinus infections, bronchitis, and strep throat. These same services in a hospital could be double, even triple the cost. Whenever lab testing is involved at hospitals, prices tend to skyrocket. In addition, the doctors at urgent care centers can write and fill prescriptions for you so you don’t have to take a trip to your primary care physician.
Although urgent care facilities cannot handle every medical emergency, it’s important to know when to choose urgent care over the ER for for high-quality, fast, and convenient medical care.