What Is The Difference Between Urgent Care And A Walk-In Clinic?

Urgent care clinics and walk-in clinics are similar in many ways, as they both accept walk-in appointments, and neither are equipped to treat life-threatening medical emergencies. At Reddy Urgent Care, we proudly provide urgent care services to patients. For more information, call us now. We have convenient locations in Downtown Long Beach CA, Bixby Knolls Long Beach CA, Huntington Beach CA, and Paramount CA.

What Is The Difference Between Urgent Care And A Walk-In Clinic? - We have convenient locations in Downtown Long Beach CA, Bixby Knolls Long Beach CA, Huntington Beach CA, and Paramount CA
What Is The Difference Between Urgent Care And A Walk-In Clinic? - We have convenient locations in Downtown Long Beach CA, Bixby Knolls Long Beach CA, Huntington Beach CA, and Paramount CA

Many of the initial urgent care clinics that opened in the United States in the 1970s were started by emergency medicine physicians, responding to the public’s need for convenient access to urgent and impromptu medical care. Urgent care clinics and walk-in clinics function in much the same way in that they both accept patients on a walk-in basis without requiring scheduled appointments, although there are some key differences. 

What Is The Purpose Of A Walk-In Clinic?

Walk-in clinics were originally designed to offer a healthcare option to people who didn’t have insurance. Today, there are thousands of centers providing basic medical services to people without requesting an appointment in advance. This could be an urgent care, a retail clinic, or even an emergency room and as long as the patient has the means to pay or has insurance cover (with the exception of the emergency room), they will be seen and treated as required.

Walk-in clinics are a convenient alternative to primary care clinics, urgent care centers or emergency rooms for people who don’t have a primary care provider and need same-day medical treatment. Walk-in clinics commonly provide treatment for minor illnesses or injuries that would be inappropriate for an urgent care or emergency room, such as:

  • Colds and influenza
  • Diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting
  • Ear infections
  • Fever
  • Flu shots and vaccinations
  • Minor fractures, sprains, and strains
  • Minor burns, cuts, and lacerations
  • Physical examinations
  • Pink eye (conjunctivitis)
  • Sinus infections
  • Sore throat/strep throat
  • Urinary tract infections (UTIs)

What Is The Purpose Of An Urgent Care Clinic?

Urgent care clinics are able to provide all the services that a walk-in clinic does but they also offer X-ray, laboratory and other services. They are well equipped to deal with more serious injuries or illnesses than a walk-in clinic, but less serious than those an ER would treat, such as:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Allergic reactions
  • Asthma and bronchitis
  • Auto accident injuries
  • Dislocations, fractures, sprains, and strains
  • Mononucleosis
  • Pneumonia
  • Rashes and skin infections
  • Strep throat
  • Suture removal
  • Wound care

Services offered will vary between locations, but some typical examples are:

  • Department of Transportation (DOT) physical exams
  • Drug testing
  • Flu shots and immunizations
  • Occupational medicine
  • On-site laboratory and X-ray services
  • Tuberculosis (TB) testing
  • Ultrasound
  • Walk-in electrocardiogram (EKG) services
  • Wellness shots
  • Worker’s compensation injury management and treatment

Is Urgent Care More Convenient Than My Doctor Or The ER?

Urgent care can be more convenient than seeing your family doctor or going to the ER. In the case of the former, they are open outside of normal office hours so there is no need to wait until the next business day to see a doctor, and in the latter, there is generally less of a wait at an urgent care center than at the ER. This, of course, is a generalization, and this convenience can be negated if you end up at the ER instead of an urgent care, or vice versa. Overall, the surge in popularity of urgent cares in recent years is due largely to their convenience, availability – and affordability.

Is It Better To Go To Urgent Care Or The ER?

This is the question that you don’t want to spend time deliberating on in the event of an accident or other acute medical situation. Rather, the question should be “is this life-threatening or likely to cause serious long-term harm?”  If the answer is yes, head straight to your nearest emergency room, or call 911. If no, then it will be your local urgent care center.

Dr. Reddy and her team at Reddy Urgent Care clinics located in Downtown Long Beach CA, Bixby Knolls CA, Huntington Beach CA and Paramount CA offer urgent care facilities for everyone, from children to seniors, seven days a week. Call us today for all your urgent care needs or simply walk in. No appointment necessary! We serve patients from Downtown Long Beach CA, Bixby Knolls Long Beach CA, Huntington Beach CA, Paramount CA, East Side CA, and Los Altos CA.