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When Is Going to an Urgent Care Clinic a Bad Idea?

Published on Jun 20, 2019 by Thomas Law Offices.

When an illness or injury appears out of the blue, you may be uncertain about where to go for care. If the symptoms you’re facing aren’t life-threatening, but your doctor can’t get you in right away or their office is closed, you can head to your closest urgent care clinic.

While many urgent care facilities offer convenient medical services, it’s not always the best place to go. It’s important to know when going to an urgent care clinic is a bad idea, so you can make the best decision for your health.

Here are some situations where going to an urgent care center may be a poor decision:

You Want to be Seen by A Doctor

When you enter an urgent care clinic, it’s important to know that you might not been seen by a medical doctor (MD). This doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll been in inexperienced or unknowledgeable hands. Many nurses practitioners and physician assistants are knowledgeable and capable of evaluating, diagnosing, and treating patients. If, however, you have a condition you feel requires a specialist, it may be better to get a referral from your primary doctor.

You’re Uncertain of Your Health Insurance Policy

While urgent care clinics often take multiple types of insurance, it’s important that you understand your insurance policy before you go. This will prevent you from getting a surprise bill. As a general rule, urgent care facilities are less expensive than a trip to the emergency room, but the bill you receive may be higher than what it would be if you were to see your primary care physician.

Prior to heading to urgent care, call your insurance provider. Figure out what the cost is to go to a clinic, so you know ahead of time. Depending on your policy, you may or may not have a co-pay when you arrive. If you don’t, you might receive a statement in the mail at a later date, informing you of how much you owe the facility.

If your insurance plan doesn’t cover urgent care clinics and you have a matter you confidently feel can wait until you can get in to see your doctor, that might be the more economic decision. But, when medical care is urgently needed, it’s best to head to a clinic and figure out the finances at a later date. It’s always best to prioritize your health, so your condition doesn’t worsen.

Your Issue is Related to a Chronic Condition

While urgent care facilities can handle many of the same issues and conditions as a primary doctor’s office, like basic vaccinations, x-rays, and the common cold, it’s better for patients with chronic conditions to see their primary doctor if the symptoms they are experiencing are not urgent.

Primary care physicians know their patient’s medical history. They have access to their medical records and have the ability to come to more educated decisions when it comes to treating a chronic condition. If a number of treatments have been tried, they can advise you on what to do next because they’re aware of that history.

While you can explain your chronic condition to a nurse or doctor at an urgent care clinic, they won’t have access to the background information that your primary doctor would. As a result, the treatment or recommendation you receive might not be as effective.

You Have a Medical Emergency

Urgent care is not emergency care. Urgent care centers are same-day clinics that handle medical issues that need to be treated within 24 hours. Symptoms that can be evaluated and treated at an urgent care clinic include:

  • Dehydration
  • Sprains and strains
  • Moderate flu-like symptoms
  • Fever without rash
  • Strep throat
  • Minor allergic reactions
  • Minor burns
  • Small lacerations

Understanding what constitutes a medical emergency can help you decide where you need to go. A medical emergency is something that requires rapid or advanced treatments that are only available in a hospital setting. Often times, the medical condition is or could be life threatening or it could result in impairment. Symptoms that are best evaluation in an emergency room include:

  • Difficulty breathing or chest pain
  • Slurred speech
  • Fainting
  • Head or eye injury
  • Compound fractures
  • Seizures
  • Pregnancy complications
  • Serious burns

Not every urgent care visit ends in an improved state of health. Sometimes, patients are injured by negligent medical professionals while visiting these facilities. When this happens, victims can take legal actions and seek compensation for their losses. If you’ve been injured while seeking medical treatment at an urgent care clinic, get in touch with our lawyers today. We can evaluate your situation and advise you on how to proceed.

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Tad Thomas - Trial Lawyer

Tad Thomas

Managing Partner

Tad Thomas has dedicated his practice to representing plaintiffs in various types of civil litigation, including personal injury, business litigation, class actions, and multi-district litigation.

After graduating with his law degree in 2000 from Salmon P. Chase College of Law at Northern Kentucky University, Mr. Thomas immediately opened his own private practice and began representing injury victims.

In 2011, Thomas Law Offices was established in Louisville, Kentucky. Over the past decade, Mr. Thomas has expanded his firm and now has offices in three additional locations: Cincinnati, Ohio, Columbia, Missouri, and Chicago, Illinois. He is also a frequent lecturer on topics like trial skills and ethics and technology.

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