Mistakes to Avoid When Visiting an Urgent Care

Mistakes to Avoid When Visiting an Urgent Care

by Stephanie Meadows

When you need treatment right away, it’s good to know about your available options. We’ve all been to that point where your symptom are so concerning you cannot wait another day, let alone waiting a week or more to schedule an appointment with your primary care doctor. When you feel the need to see a doctor right away, it might be time to visit an urgent care.

Common Reasons to Visit an Urgent Care:

  • Falls
  •  A minor to moderate accident
  • Sprains and strains
  • Difficulty breathing, for instance mild to moderate asthma
  • Red, itchy, irritated eyes
  • Fever
  • Common cold and flu
  • A deep cut that requires stitches
  • Vomiting/diarrhea
  • Dehydration
  • Fractured/broken fingers and toes
  • Rashes
  • Urinary tract infections (UTI)
  • X-rays
  • Diagnostic services
  • Lab testing

Now that we’ve covered some of the illnesses, injuries and services most commonly covered at urgent care facilities, how do you know when it’s time to visit now and not postpone until the next day? Here are three common mistakes people make when visiting an urgent care.

1. Know how your insurance is covered if you go to the urgent care: Although emergency room copays are more expensive than an urgent care, it is good to know what to expect. If you have a PPO plan, often the urgent care copay is MORE than a regular office visit copay (e.g. 75-dollar urgent care copay vs. 50-dollar specialist copay vs. 25-dollar primary care copay).

2. Some urgent care clinics are actually hospital emergency rooms in disguise:

This is perhaps the biggest and most frequent mistake that people make. An urgent care center, while able to treat some of the conditions that an emergency room handles, does not deal with life-threatening injuries or illnesses. Unless an urgent care center is associated with a specific hospital, it shouldn't be treated as an emergency room for any reason.

If an urgent care clinic is associated with a hospital, it will consider itself an ER and bill like an ER. Even if it isn’t an ER, you need to ask the urgent care clinic in advance if it bills as urgent care or as an ER and get the name of the person who tells you.  Just because they tell you yes, it will be billed as urgent care does not mean that it will. Double checking is advised.

3. Don’t forget your prescription: An urgent care will not necessarily know your medical history. Contrary to popular belief, an urgent care facility can't refill a prescription for any chronic condition. If you're on medication that was prescribed to treat a specific condition, you need to take the issue up with your primary care physician first.

If you have any questions about urgent cares, call Colonial Healthcare at (803) 773-5227 to request an appointment, or request on online.