What is Urgent Care and When Should You Use It?

What is Urgent Care and When Should You Use It?


Urgent Care centers are setup to assist patients with an illness or injury that does not appear to be life –threatening, but also can’t wait until the next day, or for primary care doctor to see them.

For the days and hours that primary care physicians are closed, or for someone who does not have a primary care physician, urgent care centers provide easy access to quality healthcare without the hassle of emergency room.

Urgent medical conditions are ones that are not considered emergencies but still require care within 24 hours. Some examples of such conditions include:

  • Accidents and falls
  • Sprains and strains
  • Moderate back problems
  • Breathing difficulties (i.e. mild to moderate asthma)
  • Bleeding/cuts — not bleeding a lot but requiring stitches
  • Diagnostic services, including X-rays and laboratory tests
  • Eye irritation and redness
  • Fever or flu
  • Vomiting, diarrhea or dehydration
  • Severe sore throat or cough
  • Minor broken bones and fractures (i.e. fingers, toes)
  • Skin rashes and infections
  • Urinary tract infections

Life-threatening emergencies, such as a heart attack or a serious head injury, require a visit to the Emergency Department

Are Urgent Care Centers Expensive?

Many people worry that urgent care centers might be more expensive than emergency rooms or traditional medical care. However, this is simply not the case. Here is a brief rundown of the expenses patients will face in all three settings.

Visiting an emergency room is very expensive. The average price that will be charged is $1,300, plus the cost of an ambulance ride if necessary ($400-1,200).

The average urgent care visit will cost $120-150 (urgent care copays can be even less). The base price of a visit is added to the cost of extra services, such as x-rays, injections, medications, and casting bones.

Primary care physicians have a set office visit price, which generally ranges from $100-300 depending upon your area and their specialties.

For many patients, Urgent Care centers are the main place to go for care — especially on weekends or evenings when their primary-care physicians don’t have office hours. Urgent Care centers are a boon for patients in other ways. Urgent Care centers offer xRay imaging and other services such as lab and minor orthopedic procedures. The extended hours and immediate availability of care at Urgent Care centers provides convenience for patients.

This article is a combination of excerpts from Mount Sinai Hospital’s web site, urgentcarelocations.com, as well as myDoc Urgent Care’s own experience.
It is intended for informational purpose only.