Recently, there’s been an exponential increase in the number of walk-in clinics worldwide. For patients, these clinics offer affordable, fast, and convenient services, compared to those provided by hospitals. In a researched survey, about 89 million Americans visit walk-in clinics yearly. It’s assumed that the number is even higher since a large portion of the patients who visit the clinics are self-referred.
For those patients who don’t have health insurance, or who want to save on medical bills, walk-in clinics provide a suitable option. But do they write and refill prescriptions for specific medical conditions? Or any condition in general? Do they live up to their claims of providing top-quality health care affordably? Don’t be on tenterhooks because this guide answers those questions and more.
What They Are
Walk-in clinics, also called urgent care clinics or retail clinics, are small medical facilities that offer a wide range of services without appointments but are not a substitute for hospitals. They offer walk-in medical services, including routine checkups, urgent care, laboratory tests, x-ray services, and much more. They’re also equipped with common over-the-counter medications.
Unlike the traditional healthcare system, these clinics don’t operate with the help of healthcare providers. Instead, they have nurse practitioners or NPs, who typically handle both health assessment and physical examination. A limited number of doctors may be on-site, but most of the services are provided by NPs. That means that patients don’t have to wait to see a doctor before they receive medical care.
What and What Not These Clinics Prescribe
It’s easy to assume that a walk-in clinic provides medical treatments, lock, stock, and barrel, without certain restrictions. However, that isn’t the case. They exist to treat common illnesses, injuries, and other health-related problems that don’t require hospitalization. Although they issue prescriptions, certain medications don’t cut the mustard.
Here are some medications walk-in clinics provide.
Walk-in clinics prescribe antiviral drugs to help patients treat colds, flu, and other infections.Such drugs include Relenza, Rapivab, and Tamiflu.They’re available based on a patient’s medical needs and history.
Allergy and Asthma Drugs
Patients who suffer from allergies and asthma have better access to medications with the help of walk-in clinics. There, they can purchase medications to treat these health conditions, including Alvesco, Allegra, Alavert, and Clarinex.
One-Time Maintenance Drugs
It’s not uncommon to run out of medication for severe conditions, like high blood pressure, diabetes, or high cholesterol. To make matters worse, the nearest hospital is quite far away or the patient is out of town. A walk-in clinic can fill in the gap temporarily by offering a one-time dose of drugs, like Zestril, Glucophage, and Atorvastatin.
Stomach Disorder Medications
Walk-in clinics can help patients who suffer from conditions, like acid reflux, ulcer, and other stomach disorders by prescribing medicines like Nexium and Zantac. Patients access this service for up to 30 days, pending when they see their medical specialists.
Patients who experience headaches, toothaches, and muscle pain can visit selected walk-in clinics for over-the-counter medications, like Ibuprofen and Acetaminophen. However, for long-term pain management, the clinics may refer the patients to a general practitioner for continuous medical checkups.
Certain drugs are not available at walk-in clinics. Reasons range from non-specialization to inadequate healthcare monitoring.
Some patients visit walk-in clinics to get prescribed opioids, especially those who suffer from chronic pain. Unfortunately, this practice has led to increasing abuse, particularly among those with underlying histories of substance abuse. Doctors are also wary of prescribing this drug to patients with other health conditions. For this reason, walk-in clinics don’t issue prescriptions for opioids.
Walk-in clinics may refuse to refill prescriptions if patients with chronic medical conditions forget to get refill authorizations. Often, they’ll redirect such individuals to their primary care physicians, who monitor their health. In dire situations, the clinics may offer the medication at a decreased dosage. This approach prevents medication abuse or overdose.
Urgent centres won’t prescribe anxiolytic drugs as they are not certified to manage patients’ mental health. However, they can refer the affected individual to a psychiatrist or psychologist to get proper treatment.
How to Get a Prescription
It’s easy to get a prescription from a walk-in clinic under specific conditions. Provided that the medications don’t fall under the latter category previously discussed, a patient can request a prescription with these pointers.
Understand the Health Condition
Some conditions are easy to detect. Others take more time to diagnose. Thus, patients should understand their medical conditions, including symptoms. It’s even better if they’ve had prior diagnoses. It will help them to provide adequate information to ensure quality treatment.
Know the Medication
Alongside the medical condition, patients shouldn’t forget to include details about their past and current medications. That way, the clinic staff understands their situation better and prescribes the right drug. As recommended, have information about the medication’s name, dosage, and even side effects.
Bring a Medical Card if Possible
Even though walk-in clinics are open to patients without insurance, it’s important to have a medical card. That will help secure access to all necessary health services for free or at a more subsidized rate, depending on the country.
A walk-in clinic is not an emergency room. As such, patients shouldn’t assume it provides the same level of services as a hospital. Walk-in clinics only treat and dispense medications for common conditions, like infections, wounds, and illnesses. Patients with serious or chronic health challenges need to visit a hospital to receive proper medical care.
Emergency cases are best handled at the ER. They include cardiac arrest, stroke, and other life-threatening conditions. This knowledge will help avoid misusing a walk-in clinic and potentially putting a patient’s life at risk.
Walk-in clinics provide affordable, easy-to-access medical services. They’re even suitable for those who don’t have insurance, like Medicare. However, their services may vary according to the condition and medical centre. Before requesting medical prescriptions, patients should understand what the clinics offer and what they don’t. This will improve the quality of service they get.