Can Your Illness or Injury Be Treated at an Urgent Care Center?

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.