Knowing When to Visit an Urgent Care Center

Every day, many Americans young and old may suffer from injuries or illnesses that will require some professional medical help. When this happens, a nearby responsible adult may want to look up a local medical center if they do not already know one, and this can save a life. A medical center may be an urgent care center or a walk in clinic, or perhaps the patient may need 24 hour emergency care. When looking up urgent care centers or other medical centers, the client may specify their city or town name and ZIP code to keep results local, and find a list of medical centers and each one’s name, address, and hours of operation. If the patient needs help at an odd time of day, the client can add “24 hours” to the search, such as “24 hour walk in clinic near me” or “24 hour emergency room care near me.” What, exactly, is the difference between urgent care and emergency care? A given medical center may provide one or the other, and in some cases, both.

Emergency Care Done Right

Put simply, emergency care concerns itself with the most serious and potentially life-threatening medical cases, which urgent care centers typically cannot handle. The doctors and physicians at emergency care centers will have the proper training and equipment to save a life, such as addressing serious injuries or allergic reactions. A patient in the ER might have a broken arm or a broken leg, for example, or they may have suffered an injury to their head or eyeballs. Other patients might have bullet wounds or stab wounds that are bleeding heavily, and there might even be internal organ damage. Other patients in the ER may have chest pain or difficulty breathing, and these conditions may soon turn life threatening at any moment, if they are not already. And what about abdominal pain? Most cases are actually harmless, but if that pain is sudden, severe, and/or long lasting, then the underlying cause may be quite serious and thus warrant a trip to emergency medical services.

However, an emergency clinic or ER should not be thought of as a universal medical center, since they are best reserved for patients with dire and life threatening conditions. It is also expensive and time consuming to visit these clinics, so a patient with minor medical issues may want to visit urgent care centers instead. For convenience, some medical centers are in fact a hybrid clinic, meaning that they offer urgent care services and emergency care services side by side. This is helpful if it is not clear what level of care a victim might need.

Visiting a Walk In Clinic

Meanwhile, the urgent care industry concerns itself with minor medical problems, and this industry is large and still growing. Ever since the year 2000, over 2,000 urgent care clinics have been built across the United States, with every city and town being home to at least a few of them. These medical centers tend to be small and independent, and staffed with nurse practitioners and physicians who can handle everyday medical issues for their patients. Sometimes, these clinics form small local networks, and some of them may be open 24 hours a day. Many urgent care centers or walk in clinics are found in strip malls, or they may be built into retailers or even a hospital. If a clinic is running smoothly, it may see three patients per hour, and a guest may expect a wait time of around 15 minutes.

What sort of ailments can these medical centers treat? Guests at an urgent care clinic may visit the site’s pharmacy, which can provide prescription drug refills (common at retail clinics). Guests may also get medicinal relief from the common cold and flu during influenza season. Meanwhile, patients at these medical centers may get treatment for wrist or ankle sprains, and four in five of these clinics also provides treatment for bone fractures. The nurses on staff may offer stitches and bandages for shallow cuts and wounds, and they can also provide lotion and ointment for rashes and sunburn. Upper respiratory issues are another common reason to visit these clinics.

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