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What is urgent care?

Urgent care provides convenient treatment for non-life-threatening medical needs on a walk-in basis. Urgent care centers usually have extended hours and are open weekends to provide broad accessibility if you have an urgent need but cannot immediately see your primary care physician (PCP), or if you do not have an immediate need that warrants a trip to an emergency department. 
 
When non-life-threatening issues are managed by an urgent care center, it frees up emergency department staff for true emergencies -- which is a benefit for everyone. According to the Centers for Disease Control, nearly 130 million people visited emergency rooms last year, and only 13 percent were admitted into the hospital. If a patient goes to the ED for a laceration, sprain or strain, it will always be lower priority than symptoms of those experiencing a life-threatening illness or injury. Most urgent care centers can do X-rays, stabilize an injury or wound, perform minor sutures, and refer a patient to a specialist at a fraction of the cost if follow-up or more specialized care is required.
 
A PCP is recommended and should be the first choice for care. However, for non-life-threatening injuries, urgent care is a great option. Many people find urgent care to be the best option when they are unable to get into a primary care provider for an illness.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.