Knowing when to Get Emergency or Urgent Care

When someone is hurt or ill, it is important that a nearby party can find walk in clinics, urgent care clinics, or even emergency care clinics and take that victim there for treatment. What’s tricky about this is that “urgent” and “emergency” care are two different things, and mixing them up may be inconvenient or even risky. An emergency care clinic is essential for getting a patient stabilized and out of harm’s way, while walk in clinics are the best option for minor, everyday illnesses and wounds that are not life-threatening.

How to find emergency care clinics or walk in clinics? Often, someone who does not already know one can look them up on a PC or smartphone, entering a phrase such as “emergency care clinics near me” and enter their ZIP code to find local results. A search like this may show the name, address, and hours of local emergency care clinics or urgent care clinics, and some of them might be open 24 hours a day. This is helpful for when a patient needs care at an odd time of day, such as 3:00 AM.

What Urgent Care is For

Put simply, emergency care is for patients who have suffered serious injuries or illnesses that threaten their lives. This high level of care is possible at a hospital’s ER or emergency care clinics nearby, and doctors and physicians on staff will have the medicine and training needed to save a life. A patient might need this high level of care, for example, if they have suffered a broken leg or arm, or if they have suffered an injury to their head or one or both eyes. A patient in an emergency care clinic might have stab or bullet wounds that are bleeding heavily, and there might be internal organ damage, too. Meanwhile, serious chest pain or difficulty breathing also merit a visit to the ER, as these conditions may become life-threatening at any time, if they aren’t already. And what about abdominal pain? Most cases of abdominal pain are in fact harmless, but if that pain is severe, sudden, and/or long-lasting, then it is time to visit emergency care options since the underlying cause may be serious (such as cancer or internal bleeding).

Take note, though, that a hospital’s ER should not be treated as a catch-all healthcare site, since it is best reserved for patients in dire condition. It is far cheaper and faster to visit urgent care clinics for minor medical cases instead. For convenience, some healthcare clinics are a hybrid model, meaning that they offer both urgent and emergency care side by side. This is helpful if it is not clear what level of care a victim needs.

All About Urgent Care

If emergency care clinics take care of life-threatening cases, then walk in clinics and urgent care centers can handle the rest. Over 2,000 of these clinics can be found across the United States today, and they are staffed with nurse practitioners and physicians who can take care of many different minor medical cases. These clinics are typically small and independent, though they may sometimes form local networks with each other. Many of them can be found in strip malls for easy access, and some are in fact built into large retailers or even hospitals. Hospital clinics offer distinct and separate care from the hospital itself, and retail clinics often feature pharmacies so shoppers may conveniently get prescription drug refills. A clinic that is running smoothly may see three patients per hour, and a patient may expect an average wait time of 15 minutes.

A guest in an urgent care clinic may not only get help from the pharmacists working there, but also get medicinal relief from the common cold or flu during influenza season. A guest at these clinics may also get lotion or ointment for nasty sunburns or skin rashes, too. Physical wounds can be addressed here too, as four in five urgent care clinics offer treatment for bone fractures. And nearly all of these clinics offer treatment for wrist or ankle sprains (common injuries), and nurses on staff can provide stitches and bandages for shallow cuts. Upper respiratory issues are another common reason to visit these urgent care centers.

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