If you're the type of person who makes one of two choices with a health problem (the ER or a doctor's appointment), you could be missing out on a good "in-between" choice available in your city. The walk-in medical clinic has become the first stop of choice for many who don't want the hassle and wait that comes along with the ER and certainly don't want to spend two weeks waiting for an appointment with their regular doctor. Of course, everyone is wary of change, especially when it comes to something as important as their health care. Here are some things you should know about these facilities.
The walk-in medical clinic (which will sometimes go under the name "urgent care") functions as a halfway point between the emergency room and a doctor's appointment. They are staffed with doctors and nurses and perfectly adept at handling minor health care problems such as the flu, colds, sprains, and even the occasional broken finger. Go into your local ER with one of these problems and you could be waiting a long time before you get seen by a doctor. Make an appointment, and you could be naturally better (or much, much worse) by the time you are seen. These clinics work as a great middle choice.
What services your local medical clinic will offer will vary based on a number of factors. One, state law will regulate what they are and are not allowed to offer. For instance, the doctors working at such a facility may be fully trained and even equipped to handle a major health emergency, but the state will not permit this to be done. The patient would have to be transported to a hospital (clearly, as an exception, life saving emergency measures could be taken by anyone skilled to do so). Even within those regulations, each facility will have a wide variation when it comes to which services they provide for their patients.
Generally speaking, a medical clinic is going to be much cheaper than a trip to the emergency room or even a doctor's appointment. Along with the convenience of simply being able to walk in and be seen, this is probably one of the major factors behind their explosion in popularity. Make sure you check with your insurance company before you decide which facility to visit, of course, although even paying out-of-pocket will be dramatically cheaper than if you chose to do the same at the ER.