Every year in the United States, there are an estimated 160 million visits to urgent care centers across the country. While these medical walk in clinics are a relatively new addition to the American healthcare industry, they are spreading rapidly: there are now several thousand urgent care facilities across the nation, with an estimated 75% of urgent care clinics located in various suburbs, and 10% found in rural areas. This increase has proven helpful to emergency rooms and doctor's offices, who often face an overwhelming volume of patients, but also offers a number of benefits to the patients themselves. Should you visit a local urgent care facility? Read on to find out.
Urgent care centers provide a variety of services for medical conditions that require immediate care but are not life threatening, like strep throat, upper respiratory infections, and gastrointestinal problems. Currently, an estimated 89.8% of urgent care centers treat workplace-related illnesses or injuries, such as back pain, sprains and other musculoskeletal issues. Additionally, an estimated 80.7% of clinics provide care for bone fractures and splinting procedures. And the list of services offered by urgent care locations is growing: many have started to perform routine blood work, physical exams, and have added X-ray services to diagnose bone-related issues. An estimated 69.3% also provide drug testing for employment purposes.
By offering this wide array of medical treatments, urgent care centers are able to benefit both the patient and the community as a whole. Most urgent care centers have very short waiting periods, encourage walk-in visits, and often accept health insurance plans to cover payment. All of these advantages help to redirect the flow of non-critical injuries and illnesses away from hospitals and doctor's offices, reducing overcrowding and making it easier for the severely injured to access the medical care they need. If you have a non-life-threatening illness that requires immediate attention, don't waste time seeking emergency room care: instead, visit your nearest urgent care clinic.