Published: Sept. 11, 2009
Updated: Aug. 11, 2011
Urgent care facilities provide health care services similar to what's available in your physician's office, but they remain open nights, weekends and holidays when your doctor's office is usually closed.
"In the urgent care center, we see mostly the same conditions that primary care physicians see in their offices," says Kevin Broyles, MD. "In addition, we can sew a laceration, splint a broken bone, perform x-rays, and do minor lab work."
One of the biggest differences between Duke Urgent Care and other facilities is that we use evidence-based medicine.
"Our goal is to do the right thing for each individual patient," says Broyles. "That means that we use medical knowledge from research and evidence to guide us in treating patients."
An example of the way urgent care clinicians apply evidence-based medicine is the way they talk with patients to determine what might be causing pain or concern rather than simply ordering a battery of expensive medical tests.
"Some urgent care facilities will look at a patient who has chest pain and instantly order an electrocardiogram, tests and medications without really talking with the patient," says Broyles. "We pride ourselves on the way that we take time to really talk to patients to try to determine the cause of the problem without wasting anyone's time or money."
Another important aspect of the quality of care available at Duke Urgent Care is the fact that a physician is always on site at every center.
"There is always a Duke physician present who is credentialed to see urgent care patients of every age," says Broyles. "Some centers have physicians on site who are not trained or credentialed in urgent care, which means they aren't prepared to see everyone who might walk through the door."
We also ensure that only qualified professionals perform specific tasks. "At some facilities, a nurse or a medical office assistant might take x-rays, and while they may have on-the-job training, they aren't actually certified as a radiologic technologist," says Dr. Broyles. "At Duke Urgent Care, x-rays are taken by a trained radiologic technologist."
Registered nurses also maintain a presence at each facility -- other than physicians, physician assistants, or nurse practitioners, they are the team members who are trained to assess patients for triage, make assessments, and give medical advice.
Duke Urgent Care facilities have earned an accreditation from The Joint Commission.
"The Joint Commission ensures every aspect of patient safety, from hand washing to preventing medical errors," says Dr. Broyles. "What the accreditation means to our patients is that we care a whole lot about their safety."
Another important facet of Duke Urgent Care's commitment to providing excellent patient care is our utilization of feedback from patients.
"We have a very robust performance improvement and peer review process," says Dr. Broyles. "From administrative issues to clinical matters, we take feedback from patients and make improvements based on that."
Recently, Duke Urgent Care improved their management of migraines and patient wait times based on patient feedback.
Urgent care facilities act as a part of the continuum of the health care services you receive in your primary physician's office. Because of the nature of urgent care facilities, and the fact that you may see a different physician every time you go, urgent care can't and shouldn't replace regular visits with your primary care physician.
"We're here to work with you and your primary care physician to provide the care you want and need," says Dr. Broyles. "We're grateful to be able to care for patients when they need us, and we're grateful to our community's physicians for allowing us to be guests in the lives of their patients."
In the midst of a health problem, it can be hard to figure out where to go-should you wait until your regular physician's office is open or do you need urgent or emergency care? Here are some tips to help you make a decision.
Duke Urgent Care South is open from 7:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m., 365 days a year.
All other Duke Urgent Care locations are open from 8:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m., 365 days a year.