Urgent care is medical care provided to persons with illnesses or minor injuries that are not serious and do not require an emergency room. The American Academy of Urgent Care Medicine and the Urgent Care Association of America have criteria for urgent care clinics, but there are limited regulations or state licensing requirements.
The physicians and nurses of these facilities provide a similar level of care as an emergency department. The main services include; CT scans, X-rays, and many onsite laboratory services.
Urgent care centers are distinguished from similar ambulatory healthcare centers, such as convenient care clinics, by the scope of conditions treated.
Criteria for Urgent Care Centers
The Urgent Care Association of America (UCAOA) and the American Academy of Urgent Care Medicine (AAUCC) have established criteria for urgent care centers and the physicians that operate the clinics. The criteria include:
- Should contain several exam rooms
- Should operate seven days a week
- Should have various ethical and business standards
- Should have an authorized physician operating as a medical doctor
- Should have onsite diagnostic equipment, including X-ray and phlebotomy, among other criteria.
The American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) believes that lack of regulation facilities in urgent care centers has put the prudent layperson definition of an emergency care at risk and has also confused patients.
When to Visit Urgent Care Clinics
Life-threatening emergencies such as stroke and heart attacks require a quick visit to the emergency department, always termed as an emergency room(ER). Therefore an illness that does not seem threatening and can wait till the next day can be treated at an urgent care center.
Urgent care centers provide easy access to quality health care for the times when your primary care physician cannot see you or the office is closed. Urgent care is perfect for most non-emergency situations.
You can seek urgent care if you experience any of the following:
- Minor fractures and burns
- Minor headaches
- Mild fever in children and adults
- Back pains
- Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
- Cough and sore throat etc
Why Go To Urgent Care
Most states have reported a rapid increase in urgent care centers recently. It means many people have shifted from primary care to urgent care centers. Here are probably some of the reasons;
- Urgent care will save you money since it is cheaper than going to the primary doctor.
- There are no appointments necessary for urgent care. You can see the care provider whenever you feel uncomfortable and ill without an appointment, unlike primary doctors.
- Urgent care facilities have better hours than your doctor’s office. It merely means you can visit them even in the evening and even on weekends.
With the improved and higher regards among other specialists, urgent care medicine has become more of a career choice than a final alternative for physicians unable to practice elsewhere. In recent years the American Medical Association approved the code Urgent Care Medicine to allow physicians to self-designate specializing in urgent care medicine.