It is 2:00 pm on a Saturday. You slipped on the tennis court, what do you do? Your twisted ankle cannot wait until Monday but you really do not need emergency room care. You may be wondering “is there a walk in clinic near me?” There are at least 9,000 urgent care centers around the country, according to the Urgent Care Association. So you are in luck.
Walk in clinics have sprung up around the country because they fill a need. Overcrowding in emergency rooms in every state in the nation is a big problem. People are forced to wait for hours and hours to be treated for illnesses and injuries that cannot wait for their doctor’s office to open but are not true medical emergencies. Like the emergency room, people can be seen and receive treatment at most urgent care centers seven days a a week. Approximately 85% of them are open every day. They are open during the week after the doctors’ offices have closed. This is one reason that every week, three million people seek care at a walk in clinic.
When you fell on the tennis court and hurt your ankle, you joined the nearly 25,000 Americans who sprain their ankles every day. That could be 25,000 people heading to already crowded emergency rooms or that all could ask, “Is there a walk in clinic near me?” and head to one of them. Nearly 90% of all urgent care clinics have x-ray machines and can treat sprains and strains and fractures. Going to an emergency room for a simple sprained ankle can feel like overkill.
When you go to an urgent care center, you are not going to have to wait as long. In general, you should expect to wait less than an hour when you go to the urgent care center. Some studies have shown that about 57% of the people who look to get their medical care at a walk in clinic are seen within 15 minutes. A lot of the reason for this is that patients are not competing with ambulances and other people who may have more serious injuries and illnesses. The emergency room staff are not wrong for treating that gunshot wound before your sprained ankle but that does not mean the wait is any more fun.
Your medical care will be much cheaper at the walk in clinic. It is no secret that medical care at the hospital emergency department is the most expensive care around. Everything costs more in the emergency room. The care at the walk in clinic is much cheaper. All insurance companies understand this and the copay they require for walk in clinics is much less than what you will be charged for a visit to the local hospital emergency room. Call your insurance carrier and ask, “Is there a walk in clinic near me?” and they will be happy you did.
Here is a general list of what can be treated at an urgent care center:
- Slip and fall accidents
- Strains and sprains
- Broken fingers and toes
- Injuries that need an x-ray
- The flu
- Persistent vomiting
- Persistent diarrhea
- Eye redness or irritation
- Cough or severe sore throat
- Respiratory infections
- Skin infections and rashes
- Urinary tract infection
There are times when you really do need to seek out care at an emergency room. If, after you asked your doctor, “Is there a walk in clinic near me?” and you went to the urgent care clinic but really need to go to a hospital emergency room, the medical staff at the walk in clinic will tell you.
You should absolutely skip that step if you have the following:
- Serious head or back injury. If you have hit your head and lost your consciousness
- Severe chest pain
- Any stroke symptom (sudden numbess, weakness, vision loss, slurred speech or confusion)
- Gunshot wound or deep knife wound
- Moderate to severe burns
- Pregnancy related issues
- Fever in a newborn
- Severe stomach pain
- Suicidal feelings
That, of course, is not a complete list but one way to look at this is that if there is any chance the injury or illness you have suffered will end up having you admitted to the hospital to be treated as an inpatient, you should go to the emergency room.