28 Jun What is Urgent Care and When Should I Use It in San Diego?
More and more urgent care centers have been popping up over the past two decades. These clinics handle non-emergency illnesses and injuries so you don’t have to wait long hours in the emergency department. Urgent care facilities in San Diego have responded to an increased demand for accessible, cost-effective medical care.
What is urgent care?
Urgent care is a concept that began to appear in the United States in the early 1970s. These centers have become an important part of the healthcare industry, providing ambulatory care through extended hours. Urgent care clinics take walk-in patients, have evening hours, and accept patients of all ages with a variety of injuries and illnesses. Most facilities perform minor procedures, offer diagnostic services, such as x-ray and laboratory, and are less expensive than the emergency room.
How is urgent care different?
Urgent care clinics employ qualified, certified, and licensed professionals, such as physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, nurses, radiology technicians, and receptionists. These healthcare professionals treat minor trauma and lacerations, as well as chronic conditions, such as lung disease and diabetes. Urgent care is different from primary care in that the providers take walk-in patients, are available at extended hours and weekends, and they offer quick, cost-effective care.
What conditions and injuries can be treated at the urgent care clinic?
Most sprains, strains, and cuts are easily treated at the urgent care center. In addition, minor fractures and trauma can be treated as well. The doctor will stabilize the injury and provide a referral to an orthopedic specialist if necessary. If the patient has sustained serious injuries, or a stroke or heart attack is suspected, the urgent care clinic will have you transferred to the emergency department via ambulance. Common conditions treated include earache, sore throat, skin rash, high blood pressure, cough, flu, and fever. Pretty much any illness or injury that is not life-threatening can be treated at the urgent care center.
What is the average wait time and cost per visit?
The average time a patient waits at an urgent care clinic is 15-20 minutes. Because the clinic is equipped to handle medical problems quickly, the wait is not long. Depending on your insurance, a copay for urgent care is around $20-50, but this varies. An office visit is usually around $50-100, but the charge goes up when laboratory services and diagnostic imaging is done.
What is considered an emergency?
Conditions that should not be treated at the urgent care center include:
- Any type of severe pain
- Difficulty breathing
- Chest pain
- Compound fracture
- Severe allergic reaction
- Bleeding that won’t stop
- Coughing up blood
- Throwing up blood
- Loss of consciousness
- Seizure or convulsions
What are the statistics regarding emergency room visits vs. urgent care?
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 136 million emergency department visits occurred in 2012. Of these visits, the American College of Emergency Physicians found that 92% of emergency room visits were from sick people who needed care within 1 minute to 3 hours. However, a recent survey from the national Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care estimated that 33%-50% of emergency room visits were for non-emergent care. In addition, the New England Health Institute reported that 56% of emergency department visits were avoidable. Of those who visit the emergency room in 2012, 6.1 million had sprains and strains, and 5.9 million had upper respiratory infections, all which can be treated in urgent care centers.
Pacific Medical Care in San Diego is a top notch urgent care facility, which also offers services for chronic conditions including pain, diabetes, heart issues and more. Call us today for an urgent care San Diego trusts!