An urgent care provider can offer a massive boon for those in need of immediate medical services, but who aren't dealing with an emergency situation. Even so, it's important to be aware of several limitations inherent to these types of health care providers. While they can offer a wide array of help, there are a few things you simply won't be likely to get help with, either due to the nature of the clientele they serve or due to their lack of familiarity with you.
In order to diagnose a chronic illness, disorder or condition, most physicians rely on a long term medical history. Under normal circumstances, it's unlikely that an urgent care doctor will have access, or sufficient cause to make such a diagnosis. As such, any treatment they do offer will normally be based on an acute diagnosis, reflecting either a short-lived or one time affliction.
While this can be frustrating for chronic sufferers, your urgent care provider will have sufficient familiarity with the area and the medical community nearby that they should be able to offer a referral. Not only will this referral often give you a more reliable understanding of the quality of physician being suggested, but you'll avoid putting forth the time and effort necessary to track down a doctor who can help with your condition.
Especially problematic for people new to an area or who are temporary residents, getting certain medications prescribed by an urgent care can be difficult. These include some pain medications, antibiotics and treatments for certain chronic conditions, such as asthma and diabetes. This has as much to do with their lack of access to your medical records as it does with the nature of the work they do, so try not to take their refusal personally.
While the most common scenario is a refusal to issue a prescription for narcotic pain relievers to first time patients, other situations are not rare. For example, asthma is a complex condition, and without access to your complete medical records the physician in question may not be able to ensure that a prescription is safe for you to use. Writing a prescription for diabetes supplies is similarly fraught with complications, as well as carrying concerns regarding drug-seeking behavior.
If you have a serious need, and your regular physician can't be reached directly, make sure you provide their name and information to your urgent care provider when you're seen. This will help them to gain access to necessary medical records, and give them a point of contact they can confer with to ensure any prescriptions they issue or diagnoses they make are as fully informed as possible. As an added benefit, this will also ensure that your regular doctor is kept in the loop on any medical care you're receiving outside of his or her supervision.