Urgent Care FAQs: What Families Need To Know

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All across the nation, urgent care centers are becoming more popular due to their convenience, cost, and quality level. But if you've never been to this type of family medical center before, it's understandable that you might have questions pertaining to the level of treatment you'll receive and your overall experience there. Below, we're answering some of the most common questions pertaining to urgent care facilities.

Do I need an appointment to go to urgent care?
One of the great things about urgent care facilities is that they allow you to walk right in and receive treatment without making an appointment ahead of time. However, there are facilities that do offer online check-ins or call-ahead services that can cut down on your wait time even more. While many facilities are open seven days a week (and often for 12-hour periods), you should check ahead of time to ensure your local urgent care is open when you need to be seen.

Should I go to urgent care instead of the ER?
It depends on the situation. If you are having a true medical emergency, you should always go to the emergency room. However, there are a lot of people who choose to go to the ER when it isn't truly necessary. In fact, a 2009 study found that 14% to 27% of emergency department visits could have been handled by urgent care clinics (and save up to $4.4 billion per year in health costs as a result). Flu treatment, for example, or sprains and fractures can easily be handled by the staff at your local urgent care center. For situations that require quick medical attention but cannot be deemed a true emergency, urgent care is usually a good bet.

What do I need to bring to an urgent care clinic?
You should bring your official ID (driver's license, state identification card, etc.) and your insurance card when you come to urgent care. If you cannot bring your card, urgent care staff will attempt to verify your benefits with your carrier (it may be helpful to at least know your plan number). If you are taking other medications, it may be helpful to know them off-hand or bring a list with you, and if you have documented your symptoms, bring this list with you as well. Those who do not have insurance should bring a method of payment with them.

How long will I have to wait to be seen at this type of family medical center?
Wait times for urgent care centers may vary depending on the day or time, but typically, your wait time will range from 30 minutes to an hour. However, some patients will be seen minutes from when they walk in the door. Because of the nature of these facilities, staff members make every effort to make wait times on the shorter side.

Is walk-in urgent care staff comparable to that at my doctor's office?
The staff at your average urgent care facility will include licensed physicians, Physician Assistants, Nurse Practitioners, paramedics, nurses, X-ray technicians, and other medical personnel. These professionals have extensive training in emergency medicine, pediatrics, primary care, and even sports medicine. That means that the quality of treatment you'd receive at urgent family medical centers is often very comparable to the level of care you'd receive at a doctor's office.

Will urgent care facilities accept Medicare?
While some urgent care centers will accept Medicare, others are unable to or choose not to accept this type of insurance. It really depends on the facility. At Legacy ER, we cannot accept Medicare. However, because we are connected to an emergency facility, we will never refuse to provide care just because you are insured by Medicare.

What services can I receive at urgent family medical centers?
You can head to your urgent care center for preventative healthcare (flu shots, drug screenings, physical examinations), laboratory services (STD testing, X-rays, other diagnostics), and for non-emergency treatments (for things like colds, allergic reactions, breaks or sprains, infections, or diagnoses of unexplained symptoms). You can often turn to urgent care for anything you'd see your regular physician for.

We hope this guide has answered some of your common questions regarding urgent care. For further information, get in touch with us today.