Sick in bed

Urgent care is a major convenience when you have a minor illness or injury. These clinics are available to everyone so you can get express health care whenever you need it. However, they work a little differently than regular doctors’ offices, so here are a few things you should know before you go.

1. They Treat Only Minor Illnesses and Injuries.

Urgent care is an excellent option for minor health conditions that need fast attention, but your regular doctor isn’t available. They can treat minor illnesses and injuries like:

  • Colds, cough, and flu
  • Sinus infections
  • Non-severe gastrointestinal viruses
  • Sore throats or strep throat
  • Cuts, scrapes, stitches, or sprains
  • Minor bone breaks
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Eye infections/pink eye
  • Skin rashes
  • Animal bites

But, if you have a more severe or life-threatening illness or injury, you should go to the emergency room, not urgent care. Life-threatening situations might include:

  • Major broken bones (arm or leg) and broken bones that come through your skin
  • Deep cuts
  • Severe allergic reactions or trouble breathing
  • Chest pain, or a suspected heart attack or stroke
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Head injuries or severe headaches
  • Loss of consciousness

Urgent care clinics aren’t equipped to handle these types of life-threatening emergencies.

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2. You Don’t Need an Appointment.

Yes, you read that right. Urgent care facilities are walk-in clinics. That means you can get fast, quality care when you need it — even in the evening or on the weekend. That’s especially comforting if you need stitches or have a minor broken bone and can’t wait for a doctor’s appointment.

3. You Might Not Always See a Doctor.

Urgent care clinicians include doctors, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants. So you might not see a doctor when you’re there. However, all are trained to treat a wide range of non-emergency health conditions.

Also, they can write a prescription if needed, and send it to your pharmacy. Some urgent care clinics have a pharmacy right on-site.

4. There Are a Few Things to Bring When You Go.

You’ll save time when you’re there and paperwork later on if you pack these things before you head out to urgent care:

  • A photo ID.
  • Your health insurance information.
  • Your doctor’s office contact information.
  • A list of any medications you take.

Also, keep in mind that an urgent care clinic may not have access to your medical records. That means you’ll need to fill them in about your other health conditions, especially if you take medications for them. It’s essential to avoid any medication interactions.

To keep things easy, use a UPMC urgent care along with a UPMC Primary Care provider. UPMC’s urgent care centers can also communicate with your primary care physician for any needed follow-up care.

5. You Can Get Some Other Services at an Urgent Care Clinic

Most urgent care clinics can provide quite a few other conveniences. They’re a great option if you or your family need:

  • A flu shot.
  • Routine immunizations.
  • A TB (tuberculosis) test.
  • A basic physical for work, sports, or summer camp.
  • An X-ray.

Get to Know UPMC’s Urgent Care Sites

Urgent care is a great option to know about, and everyone should have one as a part of their health care team. Learn more about UPMC’s urgent care network, and find a location that’s convenient for you. Hopefully, you won’t need it — but if you do, we’ll be here for you.

UPMC site

About Urgent Care

Sometimes you need care right away, with no time to wait for an appointment. That’s where UPMC Urgent Care comes in. We offer prompt treatment for illnesses and injuries seven days a week, with no appointment necessary. With locations throughout Pennsylvania and Maryland, you can find immediate care close to you – even if your doctor’s office is closed. Our services include treatment for minor injuries and illnesses, physicals, prescription filling, and flu shots and immunizations. Wait times for minor injuries and illnesses are usually shorter than the Emergency Department, and we accept most major insurance. Visit our website to find a location close to you.