Getting treatment when you need it is highly important for your health, but what happens when the waiting list to see your primary care physician is far too long for you to wait? Some conditions require immediate treatment to prevent them from getting worse, and for that, you need to see a healthcare professional as soon as possible.
Table of Contents
- What Is Urgent Care?
- When Should You Go to Urgent Care and When Not?
- Do You Need an Appointment for an Urgent Care Visit?
- But Can You Make an Appointment at Urgent Care?
- How Long Do You Need to Wait In Urgent Care?
- How Long Will an Urgent Care Visit Take?
- Try Virtual Urgent Care
- How Can DrHouse Help You?
What Is Urgent Care?
Urgent care or urgent care centers are there to provide immediate care to patients who require immediate care for minor medical issues. While the issues may not be fatal, they could be causing severe discomfort, or requires fast attention to prevent the condition from developing into something more dangerous.
Urgent care is also available as a means of receiving similar care from a primary care physician when that’s not an available option, and can be used to quickly receive treatment and other things like vaccines or blood tests.
Urgent care is not to be mistaken for emergency care, which is a service provided for those who are experiencing life-threatening conditions. Medical emergencies should be handled by the emergency services and not taken to urgent care to handle.
When Should You Go to Urgent Care and When Not?
Knowing when to use urgent care can be tricky, but it’s important that you seek medical attention when you need it. Typically, you should consider going to urgent care if you’re experiencing a condition that needs to be treated within 24 hours.
This can range from a wide variety of symptoms, such as minor bleeding, strains or sprains, vomiting, and minor fractures. Of course, these symptoms wouldn’t require emergency services to take care of them, but leaving them unattended could be harmful to your health – which is why urgent care is so important.
Do You Need an Appointment for an Urgent Care Visit?
You might be concerned that you need to book an appointment for your urgent care visit, which could make things tricky if you’re in a hurry. However, most urgent care services are walk-in and ready to provide medical aid to patients as soon as possible.
Of course, there could be a line of other patients waiting to see a healthcare professional, but it would depend entirely on the day and time of your arrival. Your wait may be short, or you could be waiting for a few hours.
But Can You Make an Appointment at Urgent Care?
If you’re aiming to see a healthcare professional immediately once you reach urgent care, you may be able to book an appointment ahead of time. You can do this by calling in to see if there are any times to reserve, or whether or not you can be made a priority based on your condition – which may help to shorten your wait, especially if you live further away from the nearest urgent care center.
While you might not be completely removing your wait time, it prevents you from having to sit in a waiting room for hours, as you would have reserved your spot in line. Some urgent care centers may also have an online check-in for you to use, making it convenient for patients to easily reserve a time. You’ll also have the opportunity to describe your condition, saving time once you arrive.
How Long Do You Need to Wait In Urgent Care?
The amount of time you must wait once you arrive in urgent care can vary. Some days will be busier and you may be waiting for up to a few hours if it is particularly busy. Every urgent care center may be different, and if there is more than one nearby, it may be a good idea to call in ahead of time to check on possible waiting times. As mentioned before, making an appointment can help to cut down the time you need to wait, so if you’re not going to arrive yet – you can have your place in the queue held for you.
How Long Will an Urgent Care Visit Take?
The length of your urgent care visit will be on a case-by-case basis. Of course, if the treatment you require will take some time, your visit will be longer than someone who is only arriving for a vaccine or a blood test. Stitches or a fracture are going to take much longer than it takes to prescribe antibiotics or painkillers – so it really depends on the purpose of your visit.
Try Virtual Urgent Care
Not all urgent care visits warrant a physical appointment, and if you’re only looking to have medication prescribed or get a diagnosis quickly, you might find that there are better ways of receiving urgent care. On-demand virtual urgent care makes it much easier for patients to get an opinion and treatment from a healthcare professional, without having to go anywhere to get it.
The benefits of on-demand virtual urgent care are that you can book your appointment online, and receive it in just a short time, from your phone. You can be face-to-face with a healthcare professional in no time, and it saves you from having to make a trip to the nearest urgent care center in your condition. Of course, if you require physical attention from a healthcare professional, your virtual doctor will recommend or refer you immediately.
Some patients experiencing extreme discomfort, while not in danger, may be better off resting rather than driving or being transported. It’s especially important if the patient is experiencing something potentially infectious or contagious, which is why telehealth and virtual care are incredibly important – not just for the patient, but for others around them.
How Can DrHouse Help You?
With DrHouse you have access to quality care 24/7 and whenever you need it. We offer an affordable on-demand telehealth service, which helps you to connect with a healthcare professional quickly and easily.
We provide board-certified online doctors who can diagnose your symptoms and prescribe medication if necessary while providing helpful advice on how to look after yourself in the meantime.
Our virtual urgent care experience is fast, convenient, and secure – helping patients like you get back on track as soon as possible with their care. It’s an ideal solution if you find yourself in need of urgent medical attention, but want to avoid overcrowded hospital waiting rooms.
- Urgent care is for patients who require quick treatment for non-life-threatening conditions but require medical assistance within the next 24 hours.
- You can shorten your waiting time at an urgent care center by calling in or booking an appointment via the appropriate website.
- Urgent care waiting times can vary based on how busy the center is on that particular day.
- Urgent care can be received quickly via an online appointment using on-demand virtual urgent care.
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- Palms DL, Hicks LA, Bartoces M, et al. Comparison of Antibiotic Prescribing in Retail Clinics, Urgent Care Centers, Emergency Departments, and Traditional Ambulatory Care Settings in the United States. JAMA Intern Med. 2018;178(9):1267–1269. doi:https://www.doi.org/10.1001/jamainternmed.2018.1632
- Chen CE, Chen CT, Hu J, Mehrotra A. Walk‐in clinics versus physician offices and emergency rooms for urgent care and chronic disease management. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2017, Issue 2. Art. No.: CD011774. DOI: https://www.doi.org/10.1002/14651858.CD011774.pub2.
- Ansell, D., Crispo, J.A.G., Simard, B. et al. Interventions to reduce wait times for primary care appointments: a systematic review. BMC Health Serv Res 17, 295 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12913-017-2219-y
DrHouse articles are written by MDs, NPs, nutritionists and other healthcare professionals. The contents of the DrHouse site are for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you are experiencing high fever (>103F/39.4C), shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, chest pain, heart palpitations, abnormal bruising, abnormal bleeding, extreme fatigue, dizziness, new weakness or paralysis, difficulty with speech, confusion, extreme pain in any body part, or inability to remain hydrated or keep down fluids or feel you may have any other life-threatening condition, please go to the emergency department or call 911 immediately.