Urgent care centers see an increase in visits this time of year—do you know why?
That is right! You guessed it. It is cold and flu season!
However, throughout the year, our urgent care physicians see a wide range of illnesses and injuries. The top five reasons for urgent care visits overall are:
- Respiratory illnesses
- Skin rashes and insect bites
- Wounds that need repair
- Falls and sprains
- Urinary system infections
According to the Urgent Care Association of America, respiratory illnesses—acute upper respiratory infection, acute sinusitis, acute pharyngitis, cough and acute bronchitis—are the most common diagnoses at urgent care centers across the country.
Robert Dums, M.D., an urgent care provider at VelocityCare by Carilion’s Blacksburg location, noted that flu outbreaks make up a significant portion of patient visits at Carilion’s local VelocityCare urgent care center locations.
Urgent care facilities provide weekend and after-hours care for people who don’t require an emergency room visit but don’t have immediate access to a primary care provider.
They also play an increasingly important role in health care today.
Becker’s Hospital Review reports that 27 percent of U.S. patients visited an urgent care center in the two years leading up to a 2017 survey.
In fact, a recent study by Health Affairs found that an estimated 13.7 to 27.1 percent of all emergency department visits could be cared for at an urgent care facility, generating a potential cost savings of almost $4.4 billion annually.
While urgent care centers are a great medical resource, they are one most people would probably prefer to avoid.
So how can you prevent your next urgent care visit?
Start by getting your flu shot.
The flu vaccine is the best way to guard against sickness as we head into the cold and dark winter months.
You can get a flu shot at many locations, including VelocityCare, any Carilion Clinic Pharmacy or at your primary care provider's office.
Dr. Dums recommended additional prevention measures as well, including:
“Know who you’re around and if they are sick,” he added. “And one of the biggest tips with flu prevention is, if you’re sick, don’t show up to work or school and spread germs to others.”
In other words, respect the flu.
“The flu can be a serious illness for some people and less serious for others,” Dr. Dums explained. “It can take most people up to a week or more to recover, especially without a flu shot."