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When to Visit Urgent Care Centers


Good medical care is something that everyone needs sometimes, and Americans young and old will need professional care when they suffer illness or injuries. Some injuries, conditions, or infections are more serious than others, however, and different medical services are more appropriate than others. An emergency room, for example, is where a victim will be taken if they have suffered life-threatening injuries, while an urgent care clinic is the right choice for everyday wounds or minor injuries instead. Knowing the difference is essential, as is knowing how to find doctors and care centers in the area. A responsible adult can look online to find a nearby walk in clinic, and they may get the address, name, and hours of operation of a nearby clinic. Other times, calling 911 for an ambulance for emergency care is needed. What sort of injuries call for the ER or a simple walk in clinic?

A Hospital and Emergency Care

Emergency and urgent care can both handle infections and injuries, but there is a distinction between them. Emergency rooms, or the ER, are best reserved for victims of life-threatening injuries, illness, or conditions, and the doctors and physicians at an ER can get them out of harm’s way. Most ERs are in hospitals, although emergency care might also be possible at a hybrid clinic that can provide both emergency and urgent care inside.

A victim may be taken to emergency care, for example, if they have suffered broken arms or legs, or a head or eye injury. Serious trauma such as damaged organs (like a broken rib puncturing a lung) or heavy bleeding will also mandate a visit to emergency care, because a walk in clinic can’t handle injuries this serious. Bullet sound or stab wounds will also require emergency care, as will difficulty breathing or major chest pain. Chest pain or breathing issues may soon become life-threatening, and the patient might only recover if they are in emergency care. It should be noted, however, that more minor injuries can be treated here but that doesn’t mean that they should be. In fact, over half of all ER episodes could have been taken care of at an urgent care clinic instead, and going there may free up room in the ER that is needed for patients in life-threatening condition. Besides that, walk in clinics are much more price-friendly for someone who needs urgent care rather than emergency care.

About Urgent Care Centers

There are many thousands of urgent care and walk in clinics across the United States, and they tend to be small and independent (although they sometimes form small local networks). These facilities are staffed with nurse practitioners and physicians who have the training and equipment to deal with everyday wound and illnesses, and these clinics may have broad hours of operation for guests’ convenience. If a clinic is running smoothly, a patient may expect a wait time of around 15 minutes or so, and the clinic may see three patients per hour or so. These clinics may accept many different health care insurance policies, though a guest there may want to check just in case.

Some of these clinics are built into other facilities. Retail clinics, for example, are built into retailers such as Target or Walgreens, and they may have similar hours of operation as the parent store (this may vary). These large retailers are easy to find and have ample parking for shoppers, so a guest there can do their shopping and visit the clinic to get a drug prescription refill or get lotion for a rash in one trip. Other times, clinics are built into hospitals, but it should be noted that the clinics’ staff and services, and those of the hospital, are kept distinct.

Most clinics have pharmacies in them, useful for patients looking for a drug refill. Guests at a clinic may also get stitches and bandages for shallower cuts, and many of these clinics can also treat bone fractures. Most such clinics can also treat ankle and wrist sprains (common problems), as well as upper respiratory issues. Guests to a clinic may also get medicine for relief against symptoms of the cold and flu, such as during influenza season.

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