Whenever someone falls ill, suffers an injury, or has a sudden medical condition, it is vital that a nearby adult knows how to find and take that patient to either urgent care centers nearby, or to emergency care centers instead. If a person does not already know where to find urgent care or walk in clinics nearby, they can conduct an online search with a PC or a smartphone to find one, and enter a query such as “urgent care near me Boston MA” or “pediatric urgent care near me Los Angeles”. Urgent care centers vary somewhat on their price and hours of operation, and pediatric clinics in particular take care of patients under 18 years old. Searching “urgent care near me” may need some additional keywords or a location, such as “24 hour urgent care near me” if a patient needs help at an odd time of day. And what should be done if a patient’s life is in danger? That calls for a different level of care entirely.
When to Get Emergency Care
There are a few levels of medical care, and the highest one is emergency care. This is necessary when a patient’s life is in danger and ordinary urgent care can’t handle their case properly. To get that patient out of danger and help them stabilize, they should be taken to an emergency clinic or a hospital’s ER, where the doctors and physicians will have the proper tools and medicine to help. A patient may need this level of care for broken arms or legs, for example, or if they have suffered from a head or eye injury. Stab or bullet wounds also call for the ER, and those injuries may be bleeding heavily. A recent heart attack or stroke certainly merit a visit to the ER, and the same is true of serious chest pain or difficulty breathing. Such conditions can quickly turn life-threatening, if they aren’t already. And what about abdominal pain? Most abdominal pain is relatively harmless, but if the pain is sudden, serious, and/or lasts a long time, emergency care is the safest bet.
It may be noted, though, that a hospital’s ER should not be treated as a catch-all for all medical cases. Patients with minor, non life-threatening wounds or illnesses are encouraged to visit urgent care or walk in clinics instead, which are often less expensive and time-consuming to visit anyway. This can also free up room in the ER for patients who truly need it.
What Urgent Care Can Do
If a victim has suffered medical problems that are not serious enough for the ER, then that patient may be taken to (or even take themselves to) an urgent care center or a walk in clinic. There are many hundreds of them found across the United States today, if not thousands, and some of them are open 24 hours a day. These clinics are staffed with nurse practitioners and physicians who can treat minor wound and illnesses, and these clinics tend to be small and independent (though they sometimes form small local networks). What is more, some care clinics are a hybrid model, meaning that they offer services for both urgent and emergency care alike. This makes them flexible and quite convenient if it is unclear what level of care a patient needs.
Patients at these urgent care clinics may have access to the pharmacy where they can pick up prescription drug refills. Clinics found in retail stores, known as retail clinics, usually have these pharmacies on hand for the convenience of shoppers. Meanwhile, patients may also visit these urgent care clinics for medicinal relief against the common cold and flu during influenza season, and they may also visit to have upper respiratory issues looked at. It is also typical for patients to visit urgent care centers to get lotion or ointment for bad skin rashes or sunburn, and patients may also get stitches or bandages for shallow cuts. Four in five urgent care clinics can also treat bone fractures, and nearly all such clinic can also provide care for a sprained wrist or ankle, such as ice packs and a brace to aid the recovery process.