When it comes to things like annual check-ups and flu shots, you can schedule your doctor appointments way in advance. But you don’t always have the luxury of knowing ahead of time that you’ll need medical care. When an illness or accident happens late at night or on the weekend, your first thought may be to head to the emergency room.
After all, it’s open 24 hours a day and there’s always someone there. But unless you’re experiencing a true emergency or life-threatening problem, there’s actually a better place for you to go to get quality health care fast: an urgent care center. With hundreds of locations across Michigan, urgent care centers are the next best choice when your primary care doctor is unavailable. To find one, visit bcbsm.com and click on "Find Urgent Care" under the "Doctors & Hospitals" tab.
Write down where the nearest one is and keep the note somewhere safe. That way, when something happens, you know exactly where to go.
How do urgent care centers differ from emergency rooms?
Walk into an urgent care center and you’ll see a board-certified doctor within an hour or so, if not sooner. In comparison, it can take you four hours or longer to see a doctor in an emergency room.
There’s also a cost difference: Emergency room visits come with higher fees than if you went to a more affordable urgent care center.
What conditions can urgent care doctors treat you for?
You should always go to an emergency room if you need immediate care for a true emergency, but urgent care doctors can treat a wide variety of issues. These include:
- Cold, flu
- Stomach aches
- Urinary tract infections
What services do urgent care centers provide?
An urgent care center is not a replacement for regular visits with your primary care doctor, but they do provide many services. You can get prescriptions, like if you need antibiotics for a painful infection, and same-day diagnostic services, like X-rays and laboratory tests. Plus, the doctor who treats you will be able to provide advice for follow-up care.
For more about when to go to an urgent care center, read these other blogs:
- A Guide to the ER: When to Go, When Not to Go
- The Real Story Behind Michigan’s 250,000 Avoidable ER Visits
- Sick and Tired: See a Doctor from the Comfort of Home
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