Independent Urgent Care Centers Provide Fast Help

If you've just moved to a part of town that's far away from your doctor's office, you face a bit of a dilemma if you get sick after office hours. Many doctor's offices -- especially those that are part of a larger clinic network -- have urgent care centers that are a part of that network. But if you're feeling really bad, driving long distances to get to that clinic might be the last thing you feel like doing. You might be able to find an independent urgent care clinic that's located closer to you. Take a look at the uniqueness and potential severity of your condition, and your insurance status, to decide which type of urgent care center you should go to.

Do You Need Your Medical Records?

If the problem seems to be a one-time thing, like a cut that got slightly infected, go to the independent urgent care center. Something like that needs prompt attention but doesn't require access to your whole health record, so there's no reason to struggle with the longer drive. You'll be able to give the clinic pertinent health history information on your intake form. Chances are you won't need extensive follow-up, although the doctor at the clinic might ask you to check in to let them know how the treatment they gave you is working.

If the problems you're having seem to be related to an ongoing health problem that your doctor's been treating, though, then you should go to the urgent care center associated with your doctor's clinic if you can make the drive. Whoever treats you will need access to your entire health record to give you adequate treatment.

The one exception to that is if the condition is something that could turn worse very quickly. For example, say you and your doctor are trying to get some possible food allergies diagnosed and controlled. If you've started to have a mild reaction that isn't being controlled by allergy medication, going to a closer clinic is better because that mild reaction can actually get a lot worse very quickly. At the very least, the nearby clinic can halt the reaction, and then you can get to your regular urgent care clinic.

Do You Need Insurance to Pay?

You also need to look at the insurance coverage. An independent clinic could be outside your insurance network, meaning your insurance wouldn't pay. Luckily, many independent urgent care clinics have reasonable prices, so the cost wouldn't be too bad even if your insurance refused to pay. But if cost is an issue for you and you need your insurance to pay up, going to your regular, in-network urgent care clinic is a better idea, if you can make the drive.

Be careful with the driving, though. If you're feeling so sick that you're barely able to keep from curling up in a ball, you might not be in any shape to drive down the block, much less to a clinic. Get someone to drive you, or call for an ambulance if you're starting to feel faint and no one else is around.

Talk to a clinic like Harrison Medical Center to find out more about how independent urgent care centers work.