When you need medical attention, it may be difficult to gauge what kind you need and by default you may rush to an emergency room. However, over the past decade in Ontario, walk-in clinics, also known as urgent care clinics, have sprouted up across the province and have been instrumental in giving patients appropriate non-emergency care and taking the burden off of overcrowded emergency rooms.
Your health is definitely something you should not take a chance on when you need to be seen by a doctor. When your situation is obviously not a situation of life and death, there are benefits to choosing to attend a walk-in clinic instead of an emergency room.
While emergency rooms are available to treat patients 24 hours a day, wait times in Ontario are 4 to 5 hours on average. This is a long time for you to wait if you only require something such as an x-ray or a prescription. Walk-in clinics are available with hours similar to emergency rooms meaning if you need medical care at night or on a weekend, you can receive it without waiting incredibly long hours at a hospital or have to wait to connect with your family physician within regular business hours.
Admittedly, you may need to wait a little while at a walk-in clinic, but no appointments are necessary. If a clinic does require an appointment you will be given a specific time to attend, meaning you are guaranteed to be seen and you will not have to wait hours wondering when you will be seen by the doctor.
It is a common conception that if you need diagnostic testing such as an x-ray or an MRI you need to go to the emergency room or be referred specifically by your family doctor. Even if you get a referral in a timely manner you may still have to wait weeks or months to actually have it done. A majority of walk-in clinics have diagnostic testing equipment on site therefore if the doctor feels that you need further testing it can be done almost right away.
Walk-in clinics are also extremely beneficial for those who have a cold or flu and just need a prescription. Instead of waiting to see their family doctor or wait hours to get a simple prescription, a physicians at a walk-in clinics can prescribe a patient antibiotics if deemed necessary.
3. Beneficial for less-serious issues
Attending a walk-in clinic for non-emergency issues is beneficial because it frees up time and space at the emergency room for more serious medical issues that people have and it allows you as the patient to get the assistance you need in a timely manner. Emergency rooms are best-suited for emergency situations such as chest pain, broken bones, wounds, shortness of breath, or head injuries.
If you have a less serious medical condition such as a sprain, flu or cold, cough, or fever, a walk-in clinic will allow you to see a doctor and receive the quick and efficient treatment that you need.
4. Great service
When it comes to your health, it is understandable that you may be hesitant to visit a doctor other than your family physician. Medical staff at walk-in clinics are friendly, considerate, and sensitive to the needs of patients. These people are experienced and trained in confidentiality, which will guarantee that the reason that you attended and the treatment received is shared only with your family doctor. The doctors at walk-in clinics are able to quickly develop relationships with patients, ensuring that a professional standard of care is provided as soon as someone needing medical care walks through the door of the clinic.