Americans today face a number of medical maladies, ranging from back pain to rashes to fever to the flu, and these are just the minor ones. Some emergencies such as serious chest pain or a fainting spell call for an ER visit, but for many maladies milder than that, prospective patients have a more convenient option: a walk in clinic. A minor injury or infection can be dealt with at a medical clinic rather than a hospital’s ER, and clinic care of this type is often the best option. Of course, one should consult his/her primary care physician whenever possible, but otherwise, a walk in clinic is a strong option.
Finding the Right Care
Urgent care clinics and walk in clinics have a number of advantages to them. For one thing, they are common: urgent care medicine is practiced by around 20,000 physicians today, and the clinics can be found in nearly any small or large urban center. Retail walk in clinics, for example, can be found at such retail centers as Walgreen’s, Target, Wal-Mart, and some grocery store chains. CVS is another company that provides this type of care. No appointment is necessary; it is a walk in, meaning anyone can visit anytime on an as-needed basis. Many of them also accept most insurance policies.
What can a walk in clinic do to provide medical help? These centers are often staffed with physician’s assistants and nurse practitioners, and they can treat a wide variety of ailments. Sprains, for example, are a common injury and can be treated at a walk in clinic. In fact, each day, an estimated 25,000 Americans will suffer an ankle sprain. 80% of these sprains occur when the ankle rolls inward and pressure is applied. Aside from that, the common cold and flu, rashes, vomiting, allergic reactions, urinary tract infections, and bone fractures can be treated at a medical walk in clinic. Four out of every five urgent care and walk in clinics, in fact, will treat fractures. These walk in centers can also perform routine examinations and screening for conditions such as blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and on average, visiting such a clinic is cheaper than other options.
There are some limitations to walk in clinics and other urgent care centers that an ill or wounded person should bear in mind. These facilities rarely have professional doctors or physicians on hand, limiting the treatment to the nurses’ expertise, and depending on the malady, the staff may defer the patient to a proper hospital. A walk in clinic cannot typically help with ER-worthy conditions such as serious chest pain, sudden and harsh headaches, deep wounds, or eye injuries. In addition, the staff at a walk in clinic or urgent care center will not have access to a patient’s medical records, so a patient must bring any relevant paperwork, which may not be comprehensive. Also, a person’s primary care physician is familiar with the patient’s medical history and needs, but at a walk in clinic, the patient is a stranger.
Finding the right professional and medical enter for an injury or illness is critical for today’s citizens. For more minor injuries, the convenience of a walk in clinic or urgent care center has its advantages where specialized care is not generally needed. For symptoms of a life-threatening condition such as a heart attack, or more serious injuries such as a damaged eye or broken limb, getting rushed to the ER is essential. Otherwise, a person’s primary care physician is a safe bet, as he or she will know a patient’s medical history and needs, and can recommend care at other facilities based on the patient’s personal data.