Today, all sorts of maladies, from illness and infection to injuries mild and grievous, are on everyone’s mind, and the medical industry has various pathways of care for any sort of patient. An urgent care center is one such option, or a hospital’s ER room for more serious conditions, or a walk in clinic all the way to visiting one’s personal physician. Urgent care locations are far and wide, and most hospitals can easily be found on roads and map signs. Choosing the right clinic is the first step for any first aid.
Hospitals and the ER
For the most serious conditions, going to an ER, whether by private transportation or an ambulance, is essential for survival and recovery. At least one doctor will be necessary for such a patient, along with support nurses and technicians for MRI scanners and other equipment. Some conditions may threaten to become life-threatening, such as severe chest pain (which may be the onset of a heart attack), deep wounds, eye injuries, broken limbs, and fainting spells. An urgent care center cannot handle these; going to the ER is a must. For less serious, less urgent problems, however, there are cheaper and more convenient options.
An Urgent Care Clinic
Less serious maladies and illnesses can often be treated at an urgent care clinic. Some of these clinics are retail, meaning they are integrated into large retail centers like Target, Wal-Mart, and Walgreens. No appointment is necessary for urgent care; it is typically first come, first serve, and often cheaper than an ER. These facilities are staffed with nurse practitioners and physician assistants who, while not having the expertise of a doctor or personal physician, can often handle bone fractures (80% of urgent care clinics can handle fractures), broken fingers or toes, allergic reactions, skin rash or irritation, fever, and the common cold and flu, among other mild conditions. These centers are often open on most weekdays and during most daylight hours for convenience, and the wait time can often be under 15 minutes (about 57% of patients), and about 80% of the time, total time spent on treatment is often 60 minutes. Only if a patient’s condition is serious enough will the staff of an urgent care center defer them to a hospital’s ER.
A Personal Physician
The most detail-oriented branch of medical care is making and completing an appointment to one’s personal physician. Although this medical expert cannot be visited suddenly or at the patient’s convenience, his/her physician has personal and intimate knowledge of the patient’s medical data and history and needs, and can provide the most accurate care. Whenever possible, it is advisable to visit one’s personal physician, but if not, going to urgent care is the next best option, and many small and large urban centers have an urgent care clinic, or several, each with trained staff and the supplies and equipment to handle more mild maladies such as sprains, especially ankle sprains. In a minor emergency, one can search for “24 hour urgent care near me” on a computer or mobile device, and find directions to the nearest urgent care clinic, which often posts its services and prices online. Urgent care locations are often conveniently placed, especially retail ones, because the host retailer wants to be accessible and easily found, and parking should be plentiful at such a place.