If you’re a parent, you’ve probably experienced your child being sick more often than you ever imagined. Babies are born without much of an immune system, and are more prone to catch all the gunk that get passed from person to person until their finally figure out what’s up.

To make matters worse, you can’t schedule when your baby gets sick, and often it occurs at times when it is difficult to get them the care they need right away. It always seems to be Friday afternoon when your pediatrician’s office is closed for the weekend that your child suddenly develops a high fever and you know you need to get them medical care right away. This is the perfect occasion to take them to your local urgent care clinic.

Local urgent care centers are a relatively new concept that is quickly becoming a staple in our medical infrastructure. While a decade or two ago, you may have never heard of a local urgent care, now there are thousands across the country, that each treat about 450 patients per week.

If you aren’t certain that local urgent care is the right solution for your medical predicament, here are a few things that you may not know about urgent cares:

  1. Going to urgent care saves lives.

    Yes, we’re serious. Approximately half of the occasions that people find themselves in the emergency room is because they need immediate care, and their personal doctor is not available. No, it’s not an emergency, but they do need treatment as soon as possible: Maybe they have an basic infection (maybe a UTI, bronchitis, or ear infection) and are going to be miserable until they get antibiotics going in their system. Maybe they have a fractured bone. Maybe they have the flu. Whatever the reason, they can’t wait around to get into their doctor in a few days.

    However, this is not what emergency room is meant for. The emergency room serves one purpose: to treat life-threatening emergencies. When you go to the ER for a non-emergency, you are tying up resources that should be available for the patient who is bleeding profusely, or having a heart attack, or experiencing a head injury. By taking your non-emergency care to the urgent care instead, you could save the life of a person who is actually having an emergency.
  2. Urgent care can do more than your doctor can.

    Your doctor knows you and your medical history and is best suited to provide ongoing treatment for you. If you need to adjust your medications, yes, this is a good occasion to see your doctor. If you need a referral to a specialist, go to your doctor.

    However, there are a wide-range of common medical services that your doctor isn’t equipped to handle, that you could get immediately at urgent care. Over 70% of urgent care clinics can administer intravenous fluids onsite. Most urgent cares clinics are prepared to take x-rays and set bone fractures if you need them to. Many urgent cares can even perform lab services on-site and provide certain medications, without requiring you to make several trips while you’re ill.
  3. You’ll likely be treated faster and cheaper, at your convenience, at urgent care.

    We all know going to the emergency room is a huge bummer. You’ll probably wait in the waiting room for several hours (exposing yourself to significant contagious illnesses). The hospital surcharges that you’re subject to at an emergency room will easily make even a mild medical treatment cost you a four-digit number. You can avoid all of this by visiting your own doctor, but only when you can schedule an appointment. If you work a traditional nine-to-five job, you’ll likely have to take time off to get in while your doctor is available, which costs you money anyways.

    Meanwhile, over 90% of urgent cares are open later than 7:00 on weeknights, and many are open on weekends as well. It’s convenient to walk in without an appointment, and likely be seen within 15 minutes. At the same time, the cost of going to urgent care is usually similar to the cost of visiting your regular doctor.

Have you ever been to urgent care? Please share your experience below!