Knowing the Difference Between Urgent and Emergency Care

The modern American healthcare system is a truly vast and varied one, and patients who need help may be taken to emergency healthcare services for serious medical cases, while urgent care centers and walk in clinic are ideal for treating minor medical issues. It is important to know the difference between urgent care and emergency healthcare services, as they are two different levels of care. So, when a victim is hurt or ill and needs help, a nearby responsible adult may look up “emergency healthcare services near me” or “urgent care centers nearby” and find the name, address, and hours of operation of each clinic in their area. If the victim needs help at an odd time of day, the seeker may look for emergency healthcare services or urgent care clinics that are open 24 hours a day. They may search “24 hour emergency care Boston MA” or “24 hour urgent care locations in Kansas City MO.” What might come next?

All About Emergency Healthcare Services

When to seek emergency care? This high level of care is needed when a patient is in critical condition, and their very life might be in danger. Fortunately, the doctors and physicians working at emergency healthcare services will have the training and medicine needed to get a patient stabilized and allow them to recover. A patient might be brought to emergency healthcare services, for example, if they have suffered a broken arm or broken leg. A patient may also need emergency care if they have suffered bullet or stab wounds that are bleeding heavily, and there may be internal organ damage, too. Chest pain and difficulty breathing also merit a visit to emergency healthcare services, since these conditions may soon turn life-threatening at any moment, if they aren’t already. And what about abdominal pain? In many cases, abdominal pain is in fact harmless, but if that pain is severe, sudden, and/or long lasting, emergency healthcare services are the safest option. The underlying cause of severe pain might be serious, after all.

It should be noted, though, that emergency healthcare services and a hospital’s ER should not be thought of as an all-purpose medical site. These services are best reserved for serious medical cases, and patients with minor medical issues should instead visit urgent care centers or walk in clinics. Such clinics are typically much cheaper and faster to visit than emergency healthcare services, anyway. But there is a third option: hybrid clinics, which offer urgent and medical care side by side. These flexible clinics are a safe option if it is not clear what level of care a patient might need.

Visiting Urgent Care Centers

Meanwhile, urgent care clinic and walk in clinics can be found all across the United States, and a few thousand of them have been built since the year 2000. These are clinics staffed with nurse practitioners and physicians who can take care of a wide variety of non life-threatening medical problems among patients. These urgent care clinics tend to be small and independent, though they can also form local networks with one another. Some may also be open 24 hours a day, and if a clinic is running smoothly, the staff may see an average of three patients per hour. A guest may expect a wait time of 15 minutes or so.

Where are these clinics found? Many are built into strip malls for easy parking and access, and some are built into retailers while others are found in a hospital. These hospital clinics offer distinct care and staff from the hospital itself, though.

When guests visit these clinics, they may go to the clinic’s pharmacy and get a precision drug refill, and retail clinics in particular often have such clinics. During influenza season, guests may also get medicinal relief from the common cold or flu. Meanwhile, four in five urgent care clinics provide treatment for bone fractures, and nearly all such clinics can provide treatment for ankle or wrist sprains, too. The staff at a clinic may provide stitches and bandages for shallow cuts and wounds, and the staff may also provide lotion and ointment for bad skin rashes or sunburn. Upper respiratory issues are another common reason to visit walk in clinics.