When to Visit an Urgent Care Center

Americans young and old will sometimes need expert medical assistance, and the American medical industry spans many different care centers, from urgent care centers to emergency care rooms to pediatric clinics and more. When someone is ill or injured, it is important that a nearby responsible adult knows how to find the proper medical care facility, and take the victim there right away. For minor and non life-threatening problems, a person may look up urgent care centers in their area, and conduct a search on a PC or smart phone if they have to. Finding urgent care centers may involve specifying a 24 hour care center for medical care at an odd time of day, or including the patient’s ZIP code in the search to keep the results local. Meanwhile, emergency care is vital if the patient’s life is in danger.

Taking Someone to Emergency Care

It is important to note that urgent care and emergency care may sound similar, but they are not the same. In particular, emergency care is for life-threatening illnesses and injuries, and a patient must be taken not to urgent care centers, but to a hospital’s ER or to an emergency clinic. With this level of medical care, the patient may make a recovery with the help of expert doctors and physicians who will have the training and medicine to help. A patient may need emergency care, for example, if they are suffering serious chest pain or difficulty breathing, as those conditions may soon turn life-threatening. Serious injuries such as stab wounds or bullet wounds, broken arms or legs, or a cracked skull (or eye damage) call for emergency care. And in some cases, if a person can’t tell if a nearby victim needs emergency or urgent care, they should play it safe and take that victim to an emergency care site.

In other cases, a clinic may in fact be a hybrid between urgent care centers and emergency clinics, offering both forms of care. This may be helpful if it is unclear what level of care a patient needs, and a person may look up “hybrid care center” online to find these particular clinics.

When It is Time for Urgent Care

By contrast, urgent care is for non life-threatening illnesses and wounds, and this level of care doesn’t require emergency services. Instead, a victim may be taken to any number of urgent care centers and walk in clinics found across the United States, and some victims may indeed be well enough to take themselves there. Many thousands of these clinics have been built since the early 1990s, and they come in a variety of forms. Many are regular urgent care centers found in strip malls for easy access, where nurse practitioners and physicians can take care of a patient’s wounds or illness. Other urgent care centers are built into retailers such as Target or Walgreens, often known as retail clinics. These retail clinics nearly always have a pharmacy in them for the convenience of shoppers. Finally, an urgent care clinic might be found in a hospital, which offers distinct care from the hospital itself.

Visiting urgent care centers is cost-friendly than going to the ER, and may take less time, too. This is a good reason to visit those clinics for everyday care, as opposed to defaulting to the ER. Emergency care is not a catch-all, and going to the ER for a minor health problem may prove expensive and time-consuming. By contrast, a guest at an urgent care center may expect a wait time of 15 minutes on average, and a clinic that is running smoothly may see three patients per hour or so.

Patients at an urgent care center may visit not only for the pharmacy, but also for medicinal relief against the cold and flu during influenza season. The nurses there may also provide treatment for shallow cuts with stitches and bandages, and they may provide braces for wrist or ankle sprains. Four in five of these urgent care centers offer treatment for bone fractures, and guests may visit to get ointment or lotion for relief against a bad rash or sunburn. Upper respiratory problems are another common reason to visit these urgent care centers.

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