What began as a small movement in the 1970s, urgent care has since grown exponentially. The proliferation of urgent health care clinics is due in large part to their efficiency
(patients can expect to be treated far more quickly than in an understaffed hospital), but also the cost savings (a 2010 study found that nearly 20 percent of ER visits could have been treated instead at an urgent care facility, which could potentially save $4.4 billion annually in healthcare costs).
So considering that on average, between five and 20 percent of Americans contract the flu each year, and the average kid catches between six and 10 cold annually, when would you be best served by visiting an urgent health care clinic in lieu of an emergency room?
Many illnesses or injuries, such as an innocuous runny nose or twisted ankle, can be effectively treated by a Seattle walk in clinic. A walk in doctors office has the resources to properly treat many ailments, not to mention that nearly 70 percent of all physicians at urgent health care centers are board certified emergency medicine or family practice doctors.
A growing number of urgent health care medical centers also offer extended urgent care hours (some 24 hours), as opposed to only 29 percent of doctors offices that offer after hours. And in addition, an increasing number of urgent care centers provide lab services, x rays, and annual physicals. In some states, urgent health care centers even dispense the prescription on site before the patient leaves the center.
Please keep in mind that there are, of course, many illnesses or injuries that would be best served by an emergency room. A severe fracture or quickly soaring fever can be indicative of a very serious condition. And as always, if you are suffering from a chronic condition, your family doctor, with whom you have an established history, would still be your best option.