Where and When to Find Urgent Care Centers

The modern healthcare industry is a broad and diverse one, and there is more to it than a hospital’s ER (though that certainly counts, too). Every single day, many Americans get hurt or ill, and they will need professional medical attention. To get a medical emergency taken care of, a nearby person can look up emergency centers in the area if they do not already know one, and they can enter “24 hour emergency care” if the medical emergency takes place at an odd time of day. The emergency room is critical for treating a medical emergency that threatens a patient’s life, but not all cases are like that. For minor medical issues, a person can look up convenient care instead, such as urgent care centers and walk in clinics. A minor medical emergency can be taken care of at the hands nurse practitioners and physicians at these clinics. Overall, it is important to know how urgent and emergency care differ, though some hybrid clinics might offer services for both.

Getting Emergency Care

A serious medical emergency will call for the ER, and the doctors and physicians at an ER or emergency clinic will have the right training and medicine to stabilize a patient and save a life. A patient might need this level of care, for example, if they have suffered a broken arm or broken leg, or if they have sustained an injury to the head or eyeballs. A patient in the ER also might have sustained bullet wounds or stab wounds that are bleeding heavily (and there might be internal organ damage, too). Similarly, chest pain and difficulty breathing also call for emergency aid, since those conditions might soon turn life threatening if they are not so already. What about cases of abdominal pain? Is that a medical emergency? In most cases, it is not, but if the abdominal pain is severe, sudden, and/or long lasting, then the underlying cause might be quite serious, and the patient should get emergency care.

While emergency care is ideal for a medical emergency, not all cases are serious enough to require the ER. Most patients today have minor medical cases that require a visit to a walk in clinic instead, and this is often much cheaper and faster than visiting the ER (which should be kept clear for patients who truly need it). But if it is not clear what level of care a patient may need, they can be taken to a hybrid clinic that offers both urgent and emergency care, just to be sure.

All About Urgent Medical Care

If emergency aid is for a serious medical emergency, then urgent care centers can handle most of the rest. The good news is that urgent care centers are quite common, and over 2,500 of them have been built across the United States since the year 2000. These walk in clinics tend to be small, independent facilities that are staffed with nurse practitioners and physicians who can handle minor medical cases. Sometimes, these clinics may form small local networks with each other, and they can be efficient, too. A clinic that is running smoothly may see three patients per hour or so, and a guest there may expect a wait time of around 15 minutes. Most often, these clinics can be found built into strip malls, but many of them are also built into retailers (retail clinics) for the convenience of shoppers. Some clinic are built in hospitals, offering distinct care from the hospital itself.

A patient may visit an urgent care center or a retail clinic for the pharmacy built inside, and get a prescription drug refill. Similarly, guests at a clinic can get medicinal relief from the common cold and flu during influenza season. It may also be noted that patients with a wrist or ankle sprain can get braces and other treatment at an urgent care center, and around 80% of walk in clinics can also take care of a bone fracture. Nurses on staff can provide stitches and bandages for shallow cuts, and they can also provide lotion and ointment for skin rashes and sunburn. Upper respiratory issues are another common reason to visit urgent care clinics.