When is Urgent Care the Right Choice?

January 22, 2020

Clinical Contributors to this Story

Michael S. Rothberg, M.D. contributes to topics such as Internal Medicine.

Choosing where to turn to for care in a sudden medical situation can be stressful. In many cases you may find that an urgent care is nearby and has convenient hours. But, is that the right choice?

“Knowing where to go ahead of time can really help in situations where you’re sick or hurt and need to find treatment quickly,” says Michael Rothberg, M.D., a physician at Hackensack Meridian Health urgent care.

Urgent care centers are for illnesses or injuries that don’t appear to be life-threatening, but can’t wait until the next day to be treated at your regular doctor’s office.

Who will I see at an urgent care?

You’ll typically find both doctors and physician assistants at an urgent care center, who are trained to diagnose and treat a wide variety of illnesses and injuries in patients ages six months and older.

What can I go to an urgent care for?

Urgent care centers can treat most minor injuries and illnesses like:

  • Sprains, strains and potential fractures (X-Ray machine on premises at many locations)
  • Cuts that require stitches
  • Coughs, colds and sore throats
  • Ear infections
  • Fever and flu-like symptoms
  • Skin irritations and rashes
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Certain lab and diagnostic testing
  • Annual, school and work physicals
  • Immunizations

If you choose to get your care at an urgent care center, Dr. Rothberg says it’s important to know where you are going and verify the business hours before you head out. It’s also a good idea to check if your insurance is accepted.

When in doubt, you can always call your nearest urgent care center and ask if they can treat a certain condition. If you’re still unsure, go to the nearest emergency department or call 911 immediately if you experience difficulty breathing, sudden onset of vision or balance problems or a fever higher than 105 degrees.

In the event of a medical emergency, getting to a location that provides the proper level of care may be make or break for some. Be prepared by getting to know the Hackensack Meridian Health care facilities in your area. Find locations, make an appointment and get directions at HackensackMeridianHealth.org/UrgentCare.

The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.