The 7 Questions You Should Ask When You Go to an Urgent Care or Retail Clinic

Want to figure out if you’re in good hands? Here are questions to ask.

Photo by Jim Tetro

1. Is there a doctor in the house?

There should be if you’re in an urgent care. A retail clinic ideally has remote access to a physician.

2. Is a radiologist going to read my x-ray?

An urgent care should have a radiologist contracted to read x-rays, even if he or she doesn’t work on-site.

3. What kinds of lab tests can I have done here?

Many urgent cares include urinalysis, rapid strep tests, and pregnancy tests but not more extensive lab tests, such as a biopsy.

READ: Urgent Care Is the Surprisingly Good Answer to the Emergency Room Crisis

4. Do you provide breathing treatments?

These are used to treat respiratory infections or to open narrowed airpaths, so if you’re coming in for, say, an asthma attack, you’ll want to make sure you’re in a facility that has the necessary technology.

5. Who is the medical director?

This is not a trick question. Staff should know who it is, and the name of the medical director or on-duty physician should be clearly posted so you can search for any online reviews of the specific doctor on staff.

6. What forms of insurance do you take?

Also not a trick question.

7. How much is this going to cost?

Good urgent cares and retail clinics should be upfront about patient costs for the services they offer.

READ: High-Quality Urgent Cares in DC, Maryland, and Virginia

This article appears in the March 2016 issue of Washingtonian.

Associate Editor

Caroline Cunningham joined Washingtonian in 2014 after moving to the DC area from Cincinnati, where she interned and freelanced for Cincinnati Magazine and worked in content marketing. She currently resides in College Park.