Every year, many Americans young and old may suffer from injuries or illnesses that call for professional medical care. If this happens, a nearby person may look up urgent care clinics or emergency care sites in the area, often with a PC or a smartphone if they have to. When performing a search for urgent care clinics, a person may find a whole list of them, including the name, address, and hours of operation of each walk in clinic nearby. Not all are open 24 hours a day, so a person may need to specify this in their search if the victim needs help at an odd time of day. It may also be noted that urgent care and emergency care are not in fact the same thing, and a patient may distinctly need just one or the other based on the severity of their medical issue. When is it time to visit an emergency care center, as opposed to urgent care clinics? Or when are walk in clinics the better option?
Getting Emergency Care
The most extensive type of medical care, emergency care providers concern themselves with serious medical cases where a life might be in danger. These include emergency clinics and hospital ERs, and they will be staffed with doctors and physicians with the right training and medicine to stabilize a patient so they can recover. A patient will need this level of care, for example, if they have a broken arm or broken leg, or if they have suffered an injury to their head or the eyeballs. Bullet wounds and stab wounds also call for emergency care, especially if those wounds are bleeding heavily. Meanwhile, chest pain and difficulty breathing call for the ER as well, since such conditions might turn life threatening at any moment, if they are not already. And what about abdominal pain? Most cases are in fact harmless, but if the pain is sudden, severe, and/or long lasting, the underlying cause might be quite serious and require emergency care.
It should also be noted that while the ER can save a life, this is not a catch-all medical site for all patients. It is often costly and time expensive to visit there, and a patient who has only minor medical issues is urged to visit walk in clinics instead. And if it is not clear what level of care a victim might need, then a hybrid clinic may help. These are clinics that offer both emergency and urgent care side by side, making them quite flexible. They may appear in searches for either urgent or emergency care, or might be sought out specifically.
What to Know About Urgent Care
The urgent care industry can handle minor medical cases that are not serious enough for emergency care, and this is often known as “convenient care” since it is often much cheaper and faster than emergency care is. Ever since the year 2000, over 2,500 urgent care clinics and walk in clinics have been built across the United States, and they are typically small, independent sites staffed with nurse practitioners and physicians. These clinics sometimes form small local networks with each other, too. If a clinic is running smoothly, it may see three patients per hour or so, and a guest might expect a wait time of around 15 minutes. As for their location, many walk in clinics can be found in strip malls in any city or town, and some are built into major retailers for the convenience of shoppers. Others might even be built into a hospital, and offer distinct care from the hospital itself.
Most of these urgent care clinics contain a pharmacy, where guests may visit and get prescription drug refills. Similarly, a guest may visit an urgent care center to get medicinal relief from the common cold or flu during influenza season. Around 80% of urgent care centers can provide treatment for bone fractures, and nearly all walk in clinics can also provide treatment for ankle or wrist sprains, too. Nurse practitioners on staff can treat shallow cuts or wounds with stitches and bandages, and these clinics may also offer ointment and lotion for cases of sunburn and skin rashes. Upper respiratory issues are another common reason to visit these clinics.