April 16, 2024

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Every day, millions of Americans young and old get hurt or ill, and they are going to need professional medical aid. A responsible person nearby can help get that patient to local walk in clinics, emergency clinics, or hospitals, and it is important to know which one is the correct option. After all, urgent care centers and the ER in hospitals offer different types of care, which are not to be confused. In any case, a helper can look up local hospitals or urgent care clinics online if they have to, and find an open location and note its name and address. If the patient needs help at an odd time of day, the helper should find a 24 hour clinic or emergency center in particular, since not all medical centers are open 24 hours a day. What, then, are the differences between urgent and emergency care?

All About Emergency Care

Emergency care is the highest tier of professional medical aid, and it can be found at a hospital’s ER or an emergency care clinic. Such hospitals and clinics are staffed with doctors and physicians who have the right medicine and training to take care of even life-threatening injuries or conditions, and this can save a life. Why might a patient visit here? Often, a broken arm or leg will call for emergency aid, and a head injury or damage to one or both eyeballs also requires this level of medical care. The same is true of bullet wounds and stab wounds, which may be bleeding quite heavily, and surgeons can remove bullets and control internal bleeding. Chest pain and difficulty breathing also merit a visit to local hospitals, since such conditions can turn life-threatening at any moment, if they are not so already. And what about cases of abdominal pain? Most often, abdominal pain is temporary and harmless, but if the pain is sudden, severe, and/or long lasting, emergency care is best, since the underlying cause might be quite serious.

Also, take note that an ER should not be treated as a universal option for healthcare; that is, minor medical cases are better off being treated at walk in clinics instead. It is costly and time consuming to visit the ER, and many ER cases today (44-65% of them) could have and should have been treated at walk in clinics instead. Emergency rooms are best reserved for patients whose lives are in danger. But if it’s not clear what level of care a patient will need, they can be taken to a hybrid clinic, one that offers both urgent and emergency care side by side for maximum flexibility. Some of them might even be open 24 hours a day, and they can be found with an online search in the area.

Urgent Care Done Right

Meanwhile, as suggested above, urgent care services are best for minor medical cases, and in fact, this field is also known as “convenient care.” Visiting urgent care clinic is much faster and cheaper than visiting the ER (exact prices vary), and on average, a patient only has to wait 15 minutes to get treatment from on-site nurse practitioners and physicians. Most of these urgent care clinics are small, independent medical sites that can be found in strip malls or retailers (retail clinics), and some are even found in hospitals (they offer distinct care and staff from the hospital itself). Such clinics often accept various healthcare insurance policies, and patients can simply visit whenever they need to, with or without an appointment.

What is treated at a walk in clinic? Many patients visit them to access the pharmacy and get prescription drug refills, a common sight in retail clinics in particular. During influenza season, guests at walk in clinics can get medicinal relief from the common cold and flu, and some patients may visit to get lotion and ointment to take care of skin rashes or sunburn. In addition, the nurse practitioners on staff can provide bandages and stitches for shallow cuts and wounds, as well as braces and wraps for ankle or wrist sprains. Around 80% of urgent care centers can also provide treatment for bone fractures.