What’s the Difference Between Urgent Care and Walk-In Clinics?

Walk-in and urgent care clinics are being used more often instead of the emergency room or even a physician’s office. However, there is a difference between the two facilities and what they might offer.

Walk-In Clinic

Walk-in health care clinics were initially intended to serve the uninsured and underinsured, providing a more affordable option for basic medical services than a visit to a hospital emergency room or urgent care clinic. They are set up to offer treatment for common, non-life-threatening conditions. These can include minor injuries like burns and sprains and minor infections such as bladder, pink eye, sinus and sore throat, skin rashes and upset stomachs. Some may also offer vaccinations, pregnancy tests and routine physicals. The emphasis here is on convenience, and care is offered on a first-come/first-served basis. They do not take appointments.

Urgent Care Clinic

Urgent care clinics are like walk-in clinics with enhanced capabilities. They can treat more serious illnesses and injuries, and are designed to take some of the burden off more expensive hospital emergency care services. Extended hours and weekend services are usually available. Urgent care clinics are staffed by physicians, can provide x-rays, administer IVs and treat minor and moderately severe trauma for non-life-threatening conditions such as broken bones or deep lacerations

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