The walk-in clinic: advantages and disadvantages

For those committed to a pediatrician or general practitioner, the thought of using a walk-in clinic can seem like a strange idea in the way of healthcare. However, for minor emergencies that occur during holidays or over the weekend, this medical care facility can be one of the most cost-effective options available at short notice. If you don’t have direct access to your GP, but you have a minor medical problem that needs care, call a walk-in clinic near you before rushing to the nearest emergency room.

Benefits of this care option

These medical facilities provide an excellent choice for minor medical problems that do not require immediate medical attention. Usually they are open during the evenings and weekends when the regular doctor’s offices are closed. So if a minor problem arises in the late evening hours, you may be able to avoid a hefty emergency room bill!

Some families and individuals choose to visit the doctors at the walk-in clinic for regular checkups and for minor medical emergencies. The convenience of being able to see the doctor outside office hours appeals to those who work long hours. The convenience of being able to go to the doctor without an appointment is also great for unexpected sick visits or minor emergencies.

For those without insurance, the reasonable cost for appointments at these facilities is a huge benefit. A typical emergency room visit for a minor ailment costs thousands of dollars, while a visit to the doctors at a walk-in clinic only costs hundreds of dollars, if that much at all.

Disadvantages of this care option

Since no office can control how many patients walk in during evening or weekend hours, waiting times can be unpredictable. One night can be incredibly busy with wait times of over an hour per patient, while the next can be incredibly slow with patients being returned almost as soon as they arrive! You will of course run into the same problem in the emergency department. For patients who appreciate the lower prices and have a medical situation that does not require immediate medical attention, the wait may be only a minor inconvenience.

Unless the facility employs the same medical staff every night, you will see a different doctor every time you come. Those who plan to have regular checkups will probably want to schedule routine visits with the same doctor if possible. Often the doctors work on a set night or have a scheduled rotation, so it is possible to see the same doctor when you make an appointment. But for those who visit because their child is sick or injured, the doctor will probably be a new one every time. Again, this will also happen in the emergency room, so if you have a situation that can be handled through a walk-in clinic near you, it’s definitely better for your budget if you avoid the emergency room!