Finding the right facility for medical care can be a tricky task. You may need care quickly and not have the time to set up an appointment with your general practitioner, but you're not in enough of an emergency to sit in the emergency room. Urgent care centers are the perfect middle ground between family physicians and emergency rooms. There are some common misconceptions surrounding urgent care services, but the actual facts tell the truth about how these quick-care facilities really work.
Myth 1: You won't get quality care at urgent care
Some people may believe that because you can get care so quickly, it must be substandard. In reality, urgent care centers are typically staffed with licensed physicians who run their own practices as well. When you go to an urgent care facility, you'll likely be seen by either a physician assistant, nurse practitioner, or a doctor. Every one of these health care providers is more than qualified to provide care and treat a wide variety of illnesses and injuries regularly, giving them a wealth of experience.
Myth 2: You will wait the same amount of time as at the ER
Emergency rooms have a bad reputation as places with long wait times and crowded waiting rooms, and that reputation often spreads to misconceptions about urgent cares as well. The mean wait time in emergency rooms went up by a quarter between 2003 and 2009, increasing from 46.5 minutes to 58.1 minutes. In comparison, the average wait time at an urgent care center is less than 20 minutes. If you don't think that you need emergency treatment from a hospital, skip the long wait times and go to an urgent care clinic instead.
Myth 3: You can replace your regular doctor with urgent care
While some people are skeptical about urgent care, others may overuse it. Even though urgent care facilities are staffed with many doctors capable of giving you great care, it won't be the same as having a relationship with a regular doctor. Every time you visit the urgent care, you might be seen by a different practitioner, as many of the doctors will only work at urgent care a few days out of the week. When you have a regular doctor, they'll have a complete record of your medical history and be able to make recommendations based on everything they know from your history with them.
The next time you're debating on whether you should go to urgent care or not, remember these debunked myths and make an informed decision.