Americans young and old will sometimes suffer medical maladies or injuries, and it is important that a victim is taken to a healthcare provider for assistance. Whenever a victim needs help, a nearby responsible party may look up local medical care facilities with a PC or smartphone if they don’t already know a place, and a query such as “where is urgent care near me” or “walk in clinics near me” to find these clinics. If the patient needs care at an odd time of day, the seeker may look for a 24 hour emergency care clinic or urgent care center, and a good online search will show the name, address, and hours of local clinics. But when to use urgent care? Knowing when to use urgent care is important, and it’s equally important to know when only emergency care can help. And what about when to use urgent care for children? Pediatric clinics are out there too, staffed with pediatricians who can help any young patient get better.
What Emergency Care Does
Knowing when to use urgent care, or when to get emergency care, is quite important, as “urgent” and “emergency” care are quite distinct. Put simply, emergency care is for life-threatening and major medical cases that are too serious for urgent care to handle. A patient may need this high level of care, for example, if they have suffered a broken arm or leg, or if they suffered an injury to their head of eyes. The same is true if the patient has bullet or stab wounds that are bleeding heavily. Serious chest pain or difficulty breathing also merit a visit to emergency care sites, since these conditions may turn life-threatening at any moment (if they aren’t already). Abdominal pain, meanwhile, is usually harmless, but a case of abdominal pain may require a visit to emergency care if it’s sudden, severe, and/or long lasting. The underlying cause might be quite serious, such as internal bleeding or even cancer.
It may also be noted that whole urgent and emergency care are two different arenas, not all medical sites offer just one or the other. Some clinics today are hybrids, offering urgent and emergency care side by side for more flexibility. This can be very helpful when it’s not clear what level of are an arriving patient may need.
All About Urgent Care
Urgent care service are best for non life-threatening, minor medical cases that don’t call for the ER. In fact, it often wastes a lot of time and money to visit the ER for minor cases like this. Rather, the field or urgent care is known as “convenient care” for a reason. It’s often faster and cheaper to visit these walk in clinic, and many accept various healthcare insurance policies. In fact, a walk in clinic may see three patients per hour if it is running smoothly, and a patient may expect an average wait time of 15 minutes or so.
There are over 2,000 urgent care centers across the United States today, with many built each year ever since 2000. All cities and most towns have at least a few of them, and these clinics tend to small and independent, though they can form local networks with one another. These clinics are staffed with nurse practitioners and physicians, and some of them may also have pediatricians on staff to take care of young patients. Some clinics may specialize in pediatrics, in fact, for the convenience of parents. Most walk in clinics can be found in strip malls, though some are built into retailers or even hospitals.
A visiting patient in an urgent care clinic may get a prescription drug refill at the pharmacy inside, or they can get medicinal relief from the common cold or flu during influenza season. Upper respiratory issues are another common reason to visit these clinics, and patients may get lotion or ointment for nasty cases of sunburn or rashes. Four in five of these urgent clinics can provide care for bone fractures, and most of them can also provide treatments for ankle or wrist sprains. The nurses on staff may also provide stitches and bandages for shallow cuts, such as if a patient had stepped on broken glass barefoot or mishandled a knife.
When to Visit an Urgent Care Center