Urgent care facilities are popping up all over the country, providing an alternative option for those with non life threatening urgent medical needs. In the U.S. alone, over 8000 urgent care facilities are available, mainly located in freestanding buildings. Already, an estimated three million patients visit an urgent care facility each week, though their intended effect is still not fully realized. In this article, we’ll explore the benefits of 24 hr urgent care facilities.
Busy Primary Care Physicians
Any person who has attempted to schedule an appointment with a private practice physician has been met with the frustrating “Our next available appointment is in one week,” response. Primary care physicians are seeing increased caseloads, leaving their offices and schedules crowded. As such, those with urgent conditions are often unable to get timely appointments to deal with their medical needs. Local urgent care facilities have walk in policies and offer 24 hr urgent care, making them more readily accessible and convenient to those with urgent needs. Though patients are often instructed to follow up with their primary care physicians, it is easier to wait for a follow up appointment after treatment than to wait to be treated in the first place.
Crowded Emergency Rooms
Emergency rooms are confronted with a wider range of medical issues, many of which are severe and potentially fatal. Patients who have non threatening, but urgent conditions often turn to the emergency room when they cannot get appointments with their primary practitioners and are faced with incredible wait times as those with dangerous injuries and illnesses receive the priority. Such a situation creates a difficult situation for all involved. Those with non life threatening complaints are left to wait for inordinate amounts of time, those with life threatening complaints have to share the attention of the doctors with those who are not in immediate danger, and doctors feel overwhelmed. Urgent medical care is available through 24 hr urgent care facilities for those with non life threatening injuries, decreasing the burden on emergency rooms.
Most 24 hr urgent care facilities are staffed with at least one medical doctor at all times, as well as nurse practitioners, physician’s assistants, and nurses. As such, they are able to provide the same level of care available at private offices and emergency rooms. The conditions most frequently treated at 24 hr urgent care centers include:
- upper respiratory illness
- gastrointestinal conditions
Patients can receive diagnosis and treatment at urgent care facilities, as they can also write prescriptions and, at some locations, have lab work like X rays done.
Especially during cold and flu season, 24 hr urgent care facilities are an asset to the medical community, keeping emergency rooms and private offices less crowded and making care available to a number of patients with urgent needs. Next time you’re suffering from a non threatening, urgent ailment, consider a visit to your local urgent care for quality, speedy medical attention. See this reference for more.