A walk-in clinic or urgent care facility offers a convenient option for health care when you aren't able to be seen by your primary care physician. If you or a family member has experienced a non-life threatening illness or injury, a walk-in clinic may be a more practical solution than visiting the emergency room. You won't need an appointment to be seen by a physician, although the wait time may be high depending upon the volume of patients, as it is on a first come basis. When planning a visit to your local walk-in clinic, here are a few questions you need to ask.
1. What Are the Hours of the Clinic?
Unlike the office hours of your private physician, a walk-in clinic or urgent care facility will typically have more flexible hours and be open for care during the weekends and most holidays as well. You will find evening hours as well. Call ahead to verify the hours so you can instead plan to visit the ER if necessary.
2. What Illnesses and Injuries Are Treated at the Clinic?
Understand that not every type of injury or illness can be treated at a walk-in clinic. It may vary among facilities, so you should call ahead and verify this information. After your examination and prescribed treatment, your primary care physician may be given a note from the clinic, so you may be instructed to seek follow-up care. In general, most walk-in clinics will examine and treat patients with the following conditions:
Colds, flu, and respiratory illnesses
Cuts, abrasions, and minor burns
Urinary tract infections
Sinus infections and allergy-related issues
Sprains, strains, and fractures
General physical examinations for work and for school are also typically given at most walk-in clinics and urgent care facilities. You might also want to inquire about drug screening tests as well. In addition, immunizations, X-rays and electrocardiograms (EKGs) may also be provided at some urgent care facilities and walk-in clinics.
3. What Forms of Insurance or Payments Are Accepted?
Many urgent care facilities and walk-in clinics accept cash, although there are exceptions. If you are paying by cash, your payment will most likely be required at the time of treatment. Many facilities will accept credit cards and personal checks, as well as major insurance plans. To be sure, ask ahead of time.
4. What Items Should Be Presented Upon Arrival at the Clinic?
If you plan on paying for your visit with a credit card, check, or health insurance, you will most likely need to present proper identification. This typically requires a photo ID. If you have medical insurance, bring your insurance information with you as well. Also, be sure to have your co-pay amount with you or the cash necessary to cover the cost.
You should also have a list of current medications you are taking. If you are undergoing treatment or have a history of any medical conditions, include this in your list as well.
5. What Patient Forms Will Be Necessary?
In some cases, the walk-in clinics have patient forms that may be filled out at home, ahead of time. Inquire if the forms are available online and if you may print them at home. Otherwise, you may simply complete the forms when you arrive at the clinic. A patient registration form will typically contain your personal information, such as name, address, contact number, age, and employment information. Workers' compensation forms may also be needed, as well as a medical records release form if necessary.
Something to bear in mind: If your child is a minor and wishes to be seen by a health care provider at a walk-in clinic, he or she may be required to present a parental release form. This parental authorization form will contain a parent or guardian's signature, giving permission to be examined at the facility. This form is only necessary when a minor is seen without a parent (or guardian) present.
If you need quick but non-emergency medical care, contact a clinic like West Ocean City Injury & Illness Center.