10 things you didn’t know you can do at urgent care

We all know that urgent care can take care of lots of injuries and illnesses like coughs, colds, fevers, rashes, burns and bruises.

But did you know there’s so much more? Jacob Mefford, clinical director of OSF OnCall Urgent Care, shared some of the most surprising facts about this high-quality, convenient, affordable kind of care.

What urgent care can do

1. X-rays

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One of the most surprising things urgent care does is X-ray services.

On-site providers will determine an appropriate treatment plan. All X-ray images taken at urgent care are reviewed by a radiologist. Common X-rays in clinics include wrists, ankles, arms, legs, chest x-rays and more.

2. Stitches

Have an injury that needs to be stitched up? Urgent care does stitches. If your wound continues bleeding, is deep and gaping, or if you have concerns about infection, scarring or an outdated tetanus immunization, an urgent care professional has you covered.

3. Physical exams

If you can’t wait for an appointment with your primary care provider, you can get a physical at urgent care. Types of physical examinations that can be done in the clinic include work, school or sports physicals. If your employer requires a drug screen, urgent care has you covered for that, too. If you require certain vaccines, it’s best to make an appointment with your primary care provider.

4. Ultrasounds

If you have an ailment that may require ultrasound imaging, some urgent cares do ultrasounds. They can check for ovarian cysts, appendicitis or other causes of stomach pain. For more severe pain, you may be directed to the emergency department.

5. Referrals

Maybe you know you have a problem but are not sure where to get the right care. The providers at urgent care can refer you to a specialist if you need more specialized care.

6. Prescriptions for treatment

Urgent care providers can prescribe medications. That means you can get prescriptions you need when you need them. Antibiotics can even be prescribed for symptoms such as tooth pain or infections.

7. Sexual and women’s health issues

One of the most common questions people ask is, “does urgent care do STD testing?” Many do offer testing for sexually transmitted diseases (STD), also known as sexually transmitted infections (STI). Urgent care can prescribe antibiotics to treat STIs or other kinds of bacterial infections. However, some STIs may require more extensive patient education and ongoing treatment.

Urgent care can treat gynecological issues and some other women’s health concerns. The providers can also refer you to OB/GYN care, if needed.

8. Pediatric care

Pediatricians are busy, which sometimes leads to excessive waits before an appointment is available.

If your child’s illness or injury needs attention right away but isn’t an emergency, urgent care is the place to go. Your child’s issue can likely be diagnosed and treated with a walk-in or virtual visit.

9. Doctor’s note

Going to urgent care for a doctor’s note is another benefit. Getting a sick note for work or school to verify when you need sick days is a convenient way urgent care supports your daily life.

10. Minor fractures, sprains and strains

Whether it’s a sprained ankle, a wrist fracture or a strained hamstring, minor injuries can be taken care of outside of the emergency department. Urgent care can diagnose and stabilize broken bones, and refer you to the appropriate setting or direct you to the emergency room, if your injury requires.

Other benefits

At most clinics, like OSF OnCall Urgent Care, you can walk in without an appointment or make an online reservation. Some services are even offered virtually. Most insurance plans are accepted.

When to seek emergency care

Urgent care isn’t a replacement for emergency services or routine preventive checkups with your primary care provider.

If your medical need is an emergency, such as chest pain, difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, severe dizziness, confusion or headache, stroke symptoms or a severe allergic reaction, go to the nearest emergency department.

Last Updated: May 31, 2023

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About Author: Katie Faley

Katie Faley is a Writing Coordinator for OSF HealthCare. She graduated from Illinois State University with a degree in English Studies. Before joining OSF HealthCare in 2021, she worked in magazine editing, digital marketing and freelance writing.
Katie is often found listening to ‘60s folk music, deciding on a new skill to learn, losing track of time in a library or spending time with her family and friends.

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