When you need medical attention sooner than you can get it through your regular doctor's office, you have two choices: you can go to the emergency room, or you can go to an urgent care clinic. Sometimes it's really obvious which option is best. For instance, if you suspect you are having a heart attack, it's best to get to the ER. But what conditions are best treated at an urgent care center? Here are the major ones.
Cuts That Need Stitches
If you have a cut that you think may need stitches, then you are better off going to urgent care than the emergency room. Treatment for these cuts is pretty standard; almost any doctor or nurse practitioner can stitch up a wound. However, since this is a minor issue compared to problems like heart attacks and potential strokes, you'll be triaged to the bottom of the list at an emergency room, which means you may wait hours for treatment. At an urgent care center, where only patients with similar levels of injuries are being treated, you'll get stitches a lot faster. This can actually lead to faster healing. The sooner a wound is stitched, the better it heals.
Illness With a Mild Fever
If you have a respiratory illness with a fever, it's a good idea to head to urgent care. It may take you a day or more to get in to see your regular doctor, and yet this is not exactly an emergency. An urgent care center can test you for strep, pneumonia, and bronchitis to see if any of these illnesses are to blame. They can prescribe antiviral drugs or antibiotics if needed, too. And if you need a note to excuse you from work, an urgent care center can also provide that.
Mild to Moderate Musculoskeletal Injuries
If you sprain a joint, pull a muscle, or strain yourself, an urgent care center can provide treatment. Most have x-ray machines to rule out a break. They can wrap up the affected joint and prescribe other treatments like NSAID pain relievers and ice therapy. You may be referred to a physical therapist or orthopedic doctor for follow-up, but you'll at least get initial treatment at urgent care.
Urgent care centers are excellent places to receive prompt care for medical issues that are urgent, but not quite emergencies. You'll be in and out before you know it, and you'll receive the care you need.
Reach out to a local urgent care clinic for more information.