At one time, if you became ill on a weekend, holiday, or any time after business hours, you had two choices: stay home and suffer, or go to the emergency room. This has never been an ideal situation. No one wants to wait for treatment when they're feeling miserable, but going to the emergency room for minor ailments puts undue strain on the emergency care system. Slowly, walk-in clinics with extended hours began to pop up and fill some of the after-hours healthcare gap. In recent years, brand new options have emerged. They go by many names, so it can be tough to tell them apart or know which is the best choice for you. Check out the details of a few of the best new ER alternatives available to you today.
Retail clinics are also sometimes known as minute clinics or quick-care clinics. You'll recognize them because they're located inside of drugstores and some department stores with pharmacies. Some offer the opportunity to make appointments, but almost all of them are designed to primarily offer walk-in care.
A retail clinic is not the place to go if you need complex care, and they don't have x-ray machines, which means they're not equipped to treat most common injuries, like sprains, strains, and fractures. However, for minor illnesses, they're terrific. Retail clinics are primarily equipped to provide rapid strep tests, diagnose conditions like bronchitis, sinusitis, urinary tract infections, conjunctivitis, and ear and eye infections, provide prescriptions, and treat allergy flare ups. Some also offer immunizations.
You'll most likely see a nurse practitioner rather than a doctor, which means that you'll pay less for the visit than you would at your primary care doctor's office, and significantly less than you'd pay at the emergency room as well. The average wait time at a retail clinic is about 7% less than at a doctor's office.
Urgent Care Centers
Urgent care clinics are tough to define, because the title can encompass so many things. An urgent care is typically a standalone facility, but sometimes you will see urgent care clinics that are connected to a hospital or, if not physically connected, at least affiliated with a hospital. Others are franchises, or are owned by a private entity – often a physician or a group of physicians.
In general, urgent care centers are set up to do everything that a retail clinic can do, plus many of the things that a retail clinic is not equipped for, like providing x-rays and treating lacerations, minor burns, fractures and sprains, and back problems. Most urgent care centers have at least one, if not more, physicians on duty, as well as nurse practitioners and other staff. Like retail clinics, urgent care centers are less expensive than emergency rooms and tend to have shorter wait times than emergency rooms.
Some urgent care centers specialize in a specific condition, like cardiac care or OB-GYN treatment. Many are not well-equipped to treat children (unless it happens to be an urgent care specializing in pediatrics). Others offer more general treatment. If you're considering using an urgent care clinic in your area, it's a good idea to find out if they offer general or specialized treatment so that you can determine whether the facility is a match for your needs.
Type B Emergency Departments
Type B emergency departments are also urgent care centers, but they are urgent care centers with a special designation. Namely, the urgent care center is qualified to treat emergency conditions – for example, chest pains, high fevers, signs of stroke, or heavy, uncontrollable bleeding – as well as urgent conditions. The best times to visit a Type B emergency department (if there's one available in your area) are when you have a minor illness or injury, but have an underlying condition that requires more complex care, or when you think that your currently urgent condition might progress to emergency status.
Most urgent care centers are not Type B emergency departments. The ones that are Type B emergency departments are often affiliated with or attached to a hospital, but just being a hospital-owned urgent care center is not enough to make an urgent care a Type B emergency department. In order to qualify for this designation, the urgent care must either: be licensed as an emergency department, or advertise itself as a facility that treats emergency conditions, or have had at least one-third of their total visits qualify as emergencies over the past year.
As a patient, the only way that you will know if an urgent care center is also a Type B emergency center is if they advertise this designation. Never assume that an urgent care center will be equipped to handle an emergency situation unless the center explicitly offers emergency as well as urgent treatment.
The next time that you're ill or injured and can't get to regular physician, a retail clinic or urgent care might be the right choice for you. Understanding the difference between these options can help you make the choice that will get you healthier faster.
I used to be skeptical about chiropractic healing. However, that was before I tried it for myself. I was in an accident that did serious damage to my back. I followed all of the doctor’s recommendations, did my physical therapy, and still didn’t feel any better. That was when I finally decided to try going to my friend’s chiropractor. It was such a relief when I finally started to feel better thanks to the great chiropractic care I received. That’s when I decided to start researching chiropractic care and how it could be used to treat different conditions. This blog contains the results of that research. If you’re looking for a way to feel better, you too may benefit from chiropractic healing. These articles will help you learn how.