What Is Urgent Care?

Urgent care is the delivery of ambulatory care (or personal health care consultation, treatment and intervention) in a facility dedicated to the delivery of medical care outside of a hospital emergency department, usually on an unscheduled, walk-in basis.

Urgent care centers are primarily used to treat patients who have an injury or illness that requires immediate care but is not serious enough to warrant a visit to an emergency department.

The Urgent Care Association of America established criteria for urgent care centers in April 2009 – The Certified Urgent Care Center designation.

These criteria define scope of service, hours of operation, and staffing requirements. A qualifying facility must accept walk-in patients of all ages during all hours of operation. It should treat a “broad-spectrum” of illnesses and injuries, and have the ability to perform minor procedures. An urgent care center must also have on-site diagnostic services, including Phlebotomy and x-ray.