Ask Yourself These 4 Questions When Choosing a Medical Center Option
Urgent care centers have become the new trend in the healthcare industry; there are over 6,800 in the U.S. today. With extended hours, shorter wait times, and comparable quality of care it’s not very hard to figure out why. As great as these new medical centers are, they’re not necessarily equipped to handle every kind of care need out there.
Linda Duquette-Petersen, a nurse practitioner who runs an urgent care clinic in Washington, D.C., outlined four questions to ask yourself when choosing a medical center in a piece that ran for USAToday.com. Here are those questions and a synopsis of the other advice she offered.
- Can it wait? Falling in line with most healthcare professionals, Duquette-Petersen agrees that generally the best place to go for diagnosis and treatment is your primary healthcare provider. If the issue you’re having can wait however long it will take to schedule an appointment, then that’s your best bet. They are familiar with your entire medical history and more likely to be covered “in-network” by your health insurance.
- Do I need treatment now due to symptoms or schedule? One of the primary reasons urgent care facilities exist is because of this reason. Approximately 29% of primary care doctors offer some after-hours coverage, leaving many working patients out of luck. If the symptoms are too brutal, or your schedule doesn’t allow a regular doctor visit, they’re the perfect place to go and get quick treatment for things like sore throats, infections, and certain testing.
- Possibility of broken bones or stitches? Depending on the severity, broken bones, fractures, and even stitches can be treated adequately and efficiently at urgent care centers. If there are multiple, deep lacerations a trip to a traditional emergency room is still probably best.
- Anything serious or life-threatening? If so, head straight to the emergency room or 911. Things like chest or specific stomach pains can be a red flag that something serious is wrong and should be dealt with at a hospital.
Maintaining an efficient flow of traffic is one of the things that allows the majority (57%) of patients to wait 15 minutes or less on average at walk in clinics. If everyone came to these medical centers for every ailment, every time it would cause quite the problem. Take these questions into consideration when determining which medical center option is best for you.