5 Important Things to Consider Before Visiting Urgent Care?

Kacey Whitlock

Author

If you’ve never been to an urgent care facility before, you probably have a lot of questions. When is it appropriate to go to urgent care, and when should you go somewhere else? How much will it cost? What should you bring? The last thing you want is to show up unprepared and unable to receive the care you need. Here are 5 important things to consider before visiting urgent care. Broken hand

#1 – Should I go to urgent care or somewhere else?

Urgent care is a great option for certain health care needs, but it isn’t always the best option. Reasons to visit urgent care: Urgent care clinics are perfect for minor health issues that need to be seen before you can get in to see your regular doctor. Examples of things urgent care clinics can handle are:
  • Cough, cold, flu, or sore throat
  • Scratches, bug bites, and mild burns or cuts
  • Simple broken bones that aren’t poking through the skin
  • Sprains and strains
  • Urinary tract infection (UTI) or bladder infection
  • Minor allergic reaction
  • Routine or sports physical
  • Vaccinations
  • Fever without a rash
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Lab tests and x-rays
A special note: Some urgent care clinics have different specialties. Some specialize in work injuries, some specialize in pediatric medicine, and some may specialize in women’s health. Do your research to ensure the urgent care clinic you choose will best meet your needs. Reasons to visit the emergency room: Some conditions are too severe for an urgent care clinic to handle. If you are experiencing severe symptoms such as the following, you should go to the emergency room instead of urgent care:
  • Chest pain or pressure
  • Seizures
  • Shortness of breath, difficulty breathing
  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm, or leg (especially on only one side of the body)
  • Broken bone that pokes through the skin
  • Abdominal pain and vomiting
  • Fainting or dizziness
  • Sudden, unexplained vision changes
  • Vomiting or diarrhea that won’t go away
  • Uncontrolled bleeding
  • Vaginal bleeding during pregnancy
  • Suspected poisoning
  • Severe burns or cuts
  • Newborn with a fever
  • Sudden severe headache
  • Altered mental state such as confusion or suicidal thoughts
emergency response team hospital

Reasons to visit your primary care doctor:

Urgent care clinics are a great place to go when you can’t get in to see your regular doctor, but sometimes it is best to wait and see your primary care doctor. When possible, you want to keep your medical records all in one place. Schedule an appointment with your regular doctor for things like:
  • Wellness checks, preventive care, yearly physicals
  • Minor illnesses and injuries that can wait for an appointment
  • Vaccinations
  • Monitoring chronic health problems
  • Diagnostics and screenings
  • Referrals to specialists
  • Anything you want on your main medical record

Instantly access doctors online

Consult board-certified doctors face-to-face online for as little as $99 per year

Reasons to try telemedicine:

Did you know you can get certain types of medical care without going to a doctor’s office or an urgent care clinic? Some minor health conditions can be handled by a phone or video call with a doctor who can send prescriptions to your pharmacy and order lab tests. Some conditions that can be handled by telemedicine include:
  • Minor cough, cold, flu, sore throat
  • UTIs or bladder infections
  • Yeast infection
  • Allergies
  • Sinus infection
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Ear infection
  • Pink eye
  • Swimmer’s ear
  • Skin rash without fever
  • Constipation
  • Prescription refills
  • Certain labs and tests
prescription medications

#2 – What should I bring with me?

Since urgent care clinics don’t usually have access to your complete medical record, there are some things you should bring with you to get the most out of your visit.
  • Payment. Whether it’s a copay for insurance or the full amount without insurance, urgent care clinics generally require payment up front. If you can’t afford treatment, you probably need to head to the emergency room instead.
  • Current health insurance information. While your doctor may keep your insurance information on file, an urgent care clinic might need to see your insurance card every time you go in.
  • Picture ID. Urgent care clinics want proof that you are who you say you are, so don’t forget to grab your ID on the way out the door.
  • Vaccination records. This is especially important if you’re visiting urgent care for something like a cut. Do you know the last time you had a tetanus shot? If you don’t have proof of when you received certain vaccinations, you may need to get new ones.
  • Names and doses of current medications. Many drugs can cause interactions with other drugs, so it’s crucial to know exactly which medications you are taking and what doses you are on. This could be a matter of life and death if the urgent care clinic needs to prescribe you a new medication.
  • Allergy information. Drug allergies are especially important to inform an urgent care clinic about. If you are allergic to one type of antibiotic, for example, you may be more likely to experience an allergic reaction to other antibiotics of the same class.
  • Your regular doctor’s information. Urgent care clinics like to know who your primary care doctor is so medical records can be accessed if necessary. You should know the name, phone number, and address of your primary care doctor.
  • Parental authorization form if you bring a child who isn’t yours. If you’re babysitting a child and they become ill or injured, you can’t just show up at an urgent care clinic. You need to have proof that you are allowed to get care for the child via a notarized letter.
vitamins on table

#3 – Can I check in online?

While most urgent care clinics don’t accept appointments, some do. It doesn’t hurt to pop onto their website and check since wait times average 15-45 minutes. This is also a great chance to look and see if telemedicine would be a better option than an urgent care clinic.

If you can’t check in online or make an appointment, be mindful of the time you go. Urgent care clinics are often busier on weekends and evenings. If you can, try to go during the day on a weekday to get in and out quicker.

#4 – Who will I see?

Urgent care clinics may have doctors on staff, but you will often be attended to by a physician’s assistant or a nurse practitioner. While these people aren’t medical doctors, they do have graduate or doctorate level education to diagnose and treat your problems.

child doctors check up

#5 – How much will it cost?

Urgent care clinics often have a copay that is higher than the copay for your primary care doctor. Copays for urgent care clinics average $35-$75. If you don’t have health insurance, costs for an urgent care clinic can run from $100 to more than $300.

Bonum Health offers competitive pricing for your telemedicine needs. For only $99 per year, with or without health insurance, you get unlimited phone or video appointments with a doctor any time of day or night for minor health issues such as cough, cold, flu, pink eye, vaginitis, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, bug bites, headache, ear problems, allergies, UTIs, and more.

If you’re considering urgent care, you should consider using Bonum health instead for a more convenient and cost-efficient way to get the care you need 24/7.