Walk-in clinics are everywhere. You might have even gone into one yourself without realizing it. So, what is a walk-in clinic exactly? When should you go to one? What do you need one for? We’ve put together a guide for you to find out.
What is a walk-in clinic?
A walk-in clinic is:
- A medical facility that accepts patients without an appointment
- Just as the name indicates, you should be able to walk in and get service
- Some of these clinics charge a fee for you to see a doctor
- There are also some free walk-in clinics
- Urgent care facilities such as hospital emergency rooms technically fall under the definition of a walk-in clinic
To summarize: A walk-in clinic is a place where you can go for medical care spontaneously, whenever you need or have time.
Are walk-in clinics for emergencies?
Although urgent-care facilities fall under this definition, not all walk-in clinics are for emergencies. The kind of equipment a local community walk-in clinic might have, differs a lot from the kind of equipment you find at a hospital emergency room. In both cases, the doctors are likely to have different skills as well.
Therefore, not all walk-in clinics are for emergencies; only some of them are and they are commonly known as the Emergency Room (ER). If you are having a medical emergency, it is always better to dial 911. If you are not sure whether you should dial 911, go to the ER yourself, or just go to your local walk-in clinic, you can always check with our medical professionals here at AntidoteHealth. We can help you understand quickly which kind of care you need, and our doctors are available 24/7 for you.
Why a walk-in clinic?
Emergencies aside, a walk-in clinic works just like a doctor’s office. You go in and the next doctor available checks you. Walk-in clinics are generally staffed with nurses or medical assistants who will check your vitals (heart rate and blood pressure for example), your weight (sometimes your height), and will ask you what you are coming for. According to your answer, they will refer you to the right doctor within the facility.
So, why a walk-in clinic instead of your doctor’s office? There are several answers to this question:
- Your doctor does not have an appointment any time soon and you have a health concern that you do not want to wait with
- You do not have a life-threatening emergency, but you do need medical attention soon
- It is convenient because you are in a certain part of town and the clinic is close by
- You are looking for a free walk-in clinic
Walk-In Clinic vs Emergency Room
If you do end up needing to go to the Emergency Room (ER) – you will probably be facing a serious injury or even a life-threatening condition. There are also some common health issues that can arise suddenly in which you will rather go to the local walk-in clinic. It all depends on what the issue is and how urgently you need care.
Here is a walk-in clinic vs emergency room comparison for reference:
- Walk-in clinics can be useful for minor health issues
- Waiting times at your local walk-in clinic might be lower than at the nearest ER – this depends on where you live
- If you need critical medical care, you should head over to the ER
- Some walk-in clinics will be able to offer help in case you twist your ankle or have some other minor injury
- It is much more expensive to go to the emergency room than to go to your local walk-in clinic because they are equipped to deal with more complex health problems
- Another reason why emergency rooms are more expensive than walk-in clinics is because there are less of them available
You might also be wondering about urgent care. Some walk-in clinics offer urgent care, which means they are equipped to perform many of the tests and medical procedures that emergency rooms are equipped for. Nevertheless, urgent care is not always available everywhere, and there are still some cases in which you must go to your local ER.
Can walk-in clinics do blood tests?
Urgent care facilities – which fall under the definition of a walk-in clinic – can do blood work. They are equipped to give the medical staff there a fuller picture of your health status, which is needed when you are seeking urgent medical care. These facilities often have EKG machines and the capability of running several blood tests quickly so you can get the care you need.
Can walk-in clinics do x-rays?
Just as with blood work, urgent care facilities are also equipped with x-ray machines to help the doctors there treat you. In case your x-ray reveals an injury that requires better imaging before a doctor can treat it or even surgery, then your walk-in, urgent care facility will have to refer you to the local hospital.
Can walk-in clinics test for a UTI?
Walk-in clinics can also be equipped to diagnose other minor ailments. Walk-in clinics can test for UTIs, for example, even if they are not designated as urgent care facilities. Your doctor might also have the equipment necessary at their office to diagnose health issues such as a UTI, for example, but if they do not have an appointment available soon, you would rather go to a walk-in clinic and avoid the pain and the discomfort of waiting for an appointment.
In case your local walk-in clinic is too busy, there is even a faster way of getting the medical attention you seek. Telehealth can cover that gap with doctors available 24/7 who are just one click and a few minutes away. AntidoteHealth can also beat your local walk-in clinic on one other critical issue: affordability.
We have affordable telehealth plans for your whole family so you might be able to switch from a walk-in to a sit-in. Our staff can take care of you from the comfort of your home or wherever you might be. Sign up and find out for yourself!