Making Good Use of an Urgent Care Center is Part of Practicing Smart ER

When you have a primary care physician, you’ve taken the biggest step in making sure you receive the best care when sudden illness or injury strikes.

So, what’s the next most important step, one that can give you and your family great peace of mind?

It may well be locating an urgent care center near you and knowing when to head there.

Urgent care centers are walk-in clinics where you can receive medical help when you can’t reach your primary care physician and you know that you don’t belong in an emergency room.

One advantage of an urgent care center is their ease of use. With extended hours, walk-in service and generally convenient locations, urgent care centers are your next best choice for primary care after your doctor. With most, you’ll save money and waiting time over an emergency room. Some even have lab and X-ray facilities onsite. They’re also staffed by doctors who are likely to have a lot of experience with your malady or, if not, who will send you off for more specialized assistance.

In general, if you can’t get to your doctor, you should head to the urgent care center when you have a non-life threatening illness or an injury that’s likely to grow worse if you leave it untreated. Sometimes, if you reach your primary care physician after hours, he or she will direct you to go to an urgent care center for treatment.

Although this is hardly an inclusive list, here are some of the medical problems that an urgent care center should handle after hours:

  • Minor sore throat
  • Earache
  • Minor cuts and scrapes
  • Sprains and strains
  • Fever under 103º F.
  • Colds and flu (unless you have a chronic condition such as COPD)
  • Skin rash

That way, you’ll be prepared when you need treatment from one. If you are a BCBSM member, you can find urgent care centers on our website. Just log on as a member and select Find a Doctor.

Once you’ve located a convenient urgent care center, make sure you give it a call to find out which services it offers and what some of its basic costs are. You should also review your medical benefits to find out what your plan covers and what your cost sharing will be.

Photo credit: Benny Wong

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  1. We use ours mostly when one of us gets a upper respiratory which is then complicated by Asthma. My daughter was having issues just this past weekend. We knew what she needed and they agreed. We are lucky the urgent care we use know her doctor really well and it helps us with getting the care she needs without waiting for the weekend to be over.

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