Can You Get Stitches At Urgent Care
I was sitting in my car outside of work one afternoon when I noticed blood dripping from my nose. It wasn’t just any old cut either; it looked like someone had taken a knife to my face, cutting deep into my skin.
Normally, I would be driving straight home to see the doctor as soon as possible, but with two kids under five years old, there’s no way I could leave them at home alone while I went to get stitched up. My husband suggested we go to his parents’ house instead. They always have a spare bedroom he said. We’d stay there until after I saw the doctor. The thought of leaving my children unsupervised made me nervous — and rightfully so. However, I knew it was likely nothing serious and they were only young enough where I shouldn’t worry too much. Plus, if anything did happen, the bleeding wouldn’t last long before stopping on its own. So I agreed.
While waiting to meet the nurse practitioner who would stitch my wound, I texted my husband to let him know what had happened. He told me everything was fine, that the family doctor had already seen us. But then, about twenty minutes later, he texted back saying that the doctor hadn’t actually seen us yet. According to him, our insurance provider sent us to a different clinic than the one she normally uses because the other one has shorter wait times. Apparently, the new clinic doesn’t even take insurance. So now we’re stuck at my husband’s parents’ house. And since they live out of town, it’ll probably be another hour or more before I’m able to leave again.
It sucks! This is exactly why I decided to write this article. If you ever find yourself in a similar situation, don’t fret. Most urgent care facilities will likely give you some stitches for free if you need them. Here’s how to ask for them and what to expect once you do.
What Is An “Urgent Care Center”?
An urgent care center (also known as an outpatient health facility) is typically located within a medical office building, or sometimes inside a retail store like Walmart. These types of facilities provide primary care services such as general check-ups, vaccinations, physical therapy, and lab tests. In addition, they also offer specialized services like X-rays, EKGs, ultrasound exams, etc., depending on your needs. Sometimes these clinics can handle minor injuries, illnesses, and conditions without having to send you to the hospital or an emergency department first.
In many cases, urgent care centers have shorter wait times than hospitals and emergency departments. Typically, patients won’t have to sit around for hours waiting to be seen. Also, unlike emergency rooms, urgent care centers usually aren’t open 24/7/365. Instead, most of their operating hours are limited to normal business hours.
Here Are Some Things To Know Before Visiting Your Local Urgent Care Facility…
1. Urgent Care Centers Aren’t Hospitals
They may look like hospitals, but they operate differently. For example, while ERs admit you whenever necessary, urgent care centers generally won’t unless you specifically request to be admitted. Additionally, unlike hospitals, urgent care centers aren’t equipped to perform surgery or treat life-threatening emergencies. If you need immediate help due to a severe injury or illness, you should head straight to the nearest emergency department or hospital.
2. There Isn’t A One-Size-Fits-All Solution
The type of treatment you receive depends on several factors including the severity of your condition. Although all urgent care centers provide noninvasive treatments, not every center specializes in treating certain diseases and ailments. If you have any questions regarding which specific disease you might have, feel free to ask your provider.
3. Fees Can Vary Widely
Some urgent care centers charge per service whereas others bill based on your insurance plan. While the latter option is often preferable, it’s important to understand whether the fee covers your entire visit. Make sure to inquire about payment options upfront.
4. Insurance Doesn’t Cover All Services
Not all urgent care centers accept all forms of insurance plans. Even those that do, however, might not cover all of the procedures performed by the staff. Find out beforehand if your insurance will cover the cost of the procedure(s). Otherwise, remember to bring along extra money to pay for additional treatments.
5. Don’t Expect Privacy
You can rest assured knowing that most providers won’t snoop through your personal belongings. However, keep in mind that some people working at the facility might overhear your conversation. As a result, make sure to remain quiet during sensitive discussions.
6. Bring Extra Medications & Supplies
Most urgent care centers require you to supply your own medications and supplies. Therefore, keep your prescriptions on hand and bring lots of bandages, ointments, gauze, thermometers, etc. If you forget something, though, be prepared to pay a higher price.
How Do You Ask For Stitches?
If you suspect that you might need stitches, the best thing to do is to consult an urgent care center immediately. After all, it isn’t worth letting the wound continue to fester. You want to prevent infection from setting in and spreading throughout your body. Remember, this happens all the time. People tend to put off going to the doctor until it gets really bad, only to find themselves with complications down the road.
When making an appointment, call ahead and schedule a consultation with a nurse practitioner. Tell her the extent of your injury, how often you notice drainage, and when the pain started. She’ll examine the wound to determine whether it warrants getting stitched. Most urgent care centers will let you fill out an intake form and bring it along. Depending on the policy of the particular facility, you might be asked to sign a release form authorizing them to share information with your healthcare provider.
Once you’ve arrived, ask if stitches are available. Chances are, your provider will tell you right away and explain why stitches are needed. Then, simply follow her instructions. Once the procedure is complete, you’ll be given a discharge slip to fill out. On the bottom, you’ll see a section labeled “stitches.” Fill it out, add your signature, and date it. Be honest about how long it took you to heal. And yes, wear your protective dressings for at least 48 hours after your treatment.
If you think you might need stitches, here’s a tip for finding the right kind of care quickly. Googling “urgent care near me” will yield results for local facilities. Just punch in your zip code to see nearby options. Another good resource is Yelp.com. Simply search for reviews related to the location closest to you. If you don’t have Yelp, you can use Google Maps to find a list of nearby facilities.
For More Information About Getting Stitches From Urgent Care Facilities, Check Out These Resources:
Have you used an urgent care facility recently? How was your experience? What tips would you suggest to someone looking for a place to get stitched? Please share your thoughts below.
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