Many are still unfamiliar with the novel idea of attending an urgent care instead of a hospital. Emergency rooms are embedded in our culture and have a connotation of being readily available and accessible, day or night. Doctor or primary care practitioner’s offices are regarded as one-on-one clinics where patients usually require appointments well ahead of time to visit; these clinics are usually only open during the day with patients visiting frequently. Urgent care clinics, however, seem to still be a bit of a mystery. Why do people use urgent cares? Is it better than an emergency room? When should I be utilizing the facility? Just like any other new advancement in society, there are truths, myths, and grey areas associated with urgent cares. We at Urgently Health are here to attempt to bust some of these myths and clarify what is true and what is not about urgent cares.
Myth: Urgent cares are only used at times when a regular physician’s office is not accessible. Urgent cares are open twenty-four hours a day and on weekends; therefore, patients should utilize these facilities for late-night emergencies or on weekends when many doctor’s offices are not operating.
Fact: One cannot generalize the business hours of all urgent cares nationwide by adhering to this assumption. Although many urgent cares are open late—far beyond the scheduled of primary care practices—most urgent care clinics are NOT open 24 hours. It is highly important to check the details surrounding the specific operations of your local urgent cares before an emergency. These facilities have varying operating hours and specialize in a plethora of different medical care techniques.
Myth: Using an urgent care regularly is synonymous with using your primary care physician.
Fact: An urgent care does not attempt to replace your regular doctor. In most cases, they are used and meant for emergencies or unanticipated medical concerns. They operate at varying times, which can be beneficial to those who may been in a rush and need urgent care, but they are not a placeholder for going to your doctor regularly. With the growing presence of urgent cares in our local towns, many patients have been known to skip their annual check-ups and rely on going to emergency care facilities if necessary. Professionals stress that urgent cares serve their own purpose and primary care facilities do the same—one does not replace the other when it comes to general care.
Myth: Urgent cares are not as professionally staffed as hospitals.
Fact: The medical personnel employed at urgent cares are no less knowledgeable than those working at emergency rooms; however, what is generally true in this regard involves the specialization of various urgent cares. Many are dedicated to a specific sect of the general population or to a specific type of medical care. In this way, they are able to be small facilities with expertise in one branch of medicine as compared to a huge hospital that has rotations all around the building to help with any type of medical need.
Myth: Wait times and appointments are a big point of confusion when it comes to urgent care facilities.
Fact: Many urgent care facilities allow patients to make appointments; however, most urgent cares operate on a walk-in basis allowing patients to simply “walk-in” and wait to be seen. Even without an appointment structure, most urgent cares have wait times well below those of primary care practices and emergency rooms. We still recommend patients use the Urgently Health app to see how long the wait times are at a local urgent care, and let them know you intend on visiting, but it is not necessary for patients to announce themselves before visiting walk-in facilities.
In conclusion, being knowledgeable and aware of your local urgent cares is the best way to be prepared for an emergency. Weeding through the myths and truths surrounding these facilities can be hard, but it is most important to know that urgent cares are reliable, quick, and trusted sources of medical care, enhancing our search for medical care.