An outpatient clinic offers an alternative to hospital emergency rooms for less serious injuries and illnesses. However, many people are still unaware of this option and its advantages. Urgent care does not require an appointment, so services are provided at a faster and more flexible pace. People who are uninsured may find this healthcare facility more affordable than other options.
A clinic for common injuries
According to emergency physician Shawn Evans, MD, it is common to see people go to the emergency room for after-hours care for minor injuries without realizing that there is another option available.
A walk-in clinic is available for injuries that need immediate attention but are not considered serious enough to warrant an emergency room visit. Most injuries treated in an urgent care center include minor burns, minor fractures, falls, accidents, infections, sprains, cuts, and common illnesses like a cold or the flu. Many clinics also provide diagnostic services that require the use of X-rays and laboratory tests. A person should go to the emergency room or call 911 if their injury or illness is life-threatening or requires immediate attention, such as a serious head injury or possible heart attack or stroke.
More flexible for individual needs
Accidents and illnesses can happen unexpectedly. It is not always possible to schedule the next available time to see a doctor. Due to the fact that an urgent care center is available without an appointment, a person can seek immediate care instead of waiting for the next available appointment from their doctor. In fact, this is the reason the outpatient clinic was established. The main goal is to fill a void for when a person is sick or injured, but cannot communicate with their doctor. Also, an outpatient clinic would have more flexible hours and may be open on weekends and evenings. The waiting period at most urgent care centers also tends to be shorter. Since services provided in an urgent care center tend to treat a less wide range of medical problems, the average wait time is 15 to 45 minutes, compared to the 2.4 hour wait time in a ward emergency waiting.
While the emergency room can provide sufficient care for any medical problem, it can leave a big hole in many wallets, especially as the cost of medical care continues to rise. For many people who are uninsured, a local outpatient clinic can provide quality care at a more affordable price. According to Cigna Medical Group, a person visiting the emergency room can expect to pay up to three times more than at an urgent care center. While the cost of an emergency room visit can vary depending on the medical problem and the treatment needed, a study from the National Institutes of Health found that the average cost of an emergency room trip is more than $ 1,200. On the other hand, an uninsured person can visit an urgent care center for the same problem, receive quality care, and pay between $ 50 and $ 130 for the entire visit.