Urgent medical care is a term that is becoming more common in the United States and is particularly important for busy working people and those that don’t have time to get to their regular physician during office hours. Urgent medical care facilities work similar to both emergency rooms and general physicians offices, although they are really a combination of both.
Typical urgent medical care facilities will take walk in patients without an appointment provided they are not experiencing a life threatening injury or condition. In other words the service is not an emergency or trauma room for serious accident victims or those people who will need full hospitalization. Rather the urgent medical care facility typically takes patients that have minor physical injuries such as broken bones, non-life threatening accident type injuries, cold and flu treatment, workers compensation claims, minor health concerns or almost any other minor health condition. Many patients prefer to use an medical care facility to an emergency room as there are fewer costs typically associated with the service compared to a full hospital visit.
Many urgent medical care facilities also offer drug and alcohol testing and screening, basic lab work, support for patients with chronic health conditions such as diabetes or digestive disorders, or may also offer flu shots or vaccinations for children. School physicals or work related physical examinations may also be completed at most urgent medical care businesses. Typically appointments are optional with some more detailed types of exams or test needing an appointment while other health issues are treated on a walk in basis.
As with other types of medical services urgent medical care offices accept most types of insurance or may also bill directly for service. In the case of drug screening or other non-insurance tests and services payment may be needed in advance, so it is always important to phone and find out if payment will be needed. In most cases the urgent medical care service will have extended office hours over a traditional doctor’s office or clinic but they are not generally open 24 hours like an emergency room is.
Staff at the urgent medical care office will be professionals that will have the same training and licensing as staff at any other hospital or medical treatment facility in the area. Many times the doctors and nurses are more geared towards preventative type treatments and a lot of attention is focused on education and working with patients, especially those that have chronic types of health conditions.