More than 3 million people weekly visit an urgent care in the United States to attend to minor emergencies and health issues. By visiting an urgent care nearby, you can show up, walk in, and be seen after a minimal wait versus facing significant inconvenience from the emergency room for minor injuries.
For most small health issues and minor illnesses, it is easy to avoid emergency room services for after hour treatment. The convenience of being able to see a doctor with little to no advance notice is huge when you are coming down with a bad cold or a stomach virus. If your doctor is closed for the day, sometimes these illnesses are not bad enough for emergency room care, but too inconvenient to wait for the doctors office to open.
It is estimated that more than one third of all U.S. emergency room visits could have been taken care of faster and more affordably in an after hours clinic. Generally, a convenient care facility has the diagnostic equipment for most lab work, getting xrays or basic testing. For sprains or suspected breaks, you can save huge amounts of time by visiting convenient care versus the emergency room.
Other additional advantages from going to an urgent care facility is the flexibility in scheduling various minor medical appointments, like seasonal vaccinations and school physicals. For those that need a flu shot annually, you may face a wait if you schedule it with your primary care physician, but the doctors at the urgent care facility can provide flu vaccines almost immediately. Plus, the required kids yearly sports physicals can be obtained relatively quickly.
While there are generally sufficient facilities for convenient care nearby, there is still an ongoing expansion across the U.S. The Urgent Care Association of America estimates another 9,000 urgent care facilities are in position to expand. That means that your ability to get after hours care or minor emergency treatment will only get better as the facilities grow in number throughout the U.S. Read more here.