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When to Visit an Urgent Care Clinic

Whenever someone falls ill or gets hurt, it is important that a nearby party can take them to a walk in clinic or an emergency care clinic as needed. Emergency centers can provide emergency care, as the name suggests, and the same is true of a hospital’s ER. But these emergency services should not be thought of as a catch-all medical service, as many cases are not serious enough to call for emergency services. Instead, minor medical cases call for convenient care, while severe health problems require emergency aid. If a patient suffers from severe health problems and sudden injuries, the nearby party may look up hospitals or emergency clinics, complete with each site’s name and address. If severe health problems are not present, the other party may take the victim to any number of walk in clinics nearby. Knowing the difference between urgent and emergency care can save a lot of time and trouble.

Emergency Care Done Right

A victim who is suffering from severe health problems will need to be taken to an ER or emergency clinic right away, and this can save a life. Doctors and physicians will have the proper training and tools to care for these patients and stabilize them. What sort of severe health problems call for this level of care? Major trauma is a common reason, such as if the patient has broken arms or legs, or cracked ribs. A patient who has suffered eyeball or head injuries, or bullet or stab wounds, will also need emergency care. Such injuries might be bleeding heavily and might have damaged some internal organs. In other cases, a patient has serious chest pain or difficulty breathing, and such conditions may soon turn life threatening, if they are not already. Patients may also have recently suffered a heart attack or a stroke. And what about abdominal pain? Most abdominal pain cases are harmless, but if the pain is strong, sudden, and/or long lasting, then it is time for emergency care. Such serious pain might be caused by internal bleeding or even cancer in some cases.

It is costly and time consuming to visit the ER, and it is impractical for patients with minor medical needs to visit them. Instead, these patients are urged to visit walk in clinics or hybrid clinics, and leave room in the ER free for patients who truly need it. Fortunately, some clinics today are the aforementioned hybrid model, offering both urgent and emergency care side by side. This is helpful if it is not clear what level of care a patient might need.

What Urgent Care is Like

What about urgent care? Unlike emergency care, urgent care concerns itself with minor and non life-threatening cases, which are much more common than serious cases. Ever since the early 1990s, many hundreds of urgent care clinics have been built across the United States, and they are all staffed with nurse practitioners and physicians who can handle non life-threatening cases for patients. A quick Internet search may show a number of local clinics like these, some of which may be 24 hour clinics. Often, these clinics are small and independent, but some may form small local networks with each other.

Where can someone find these clinics? Many of them are built into strip malls for ease of access and parking, but some might be found in retailers, known as retail clinics. These clinics often feature pharmacies, so that shoppers can pick up prescription drug refills at their convenience. Some clinics might even be found in hospitals, which offer distinct care from the hospital at large.

Why visit these clinics? Many patients visit them not only for the pharmacy, but also to get medicinal relief from the common cold and flu during influenza season. Upper respiratory issues also rank high among reasons Americans visit urgent care centers or a doctor’s office. Four in five walk in clinics offer treatment for bone fractures, and most such clinics also offer treatment for ankle or wrist sprains, such as braces. The nurses on staff may also provide lotion and ointment for bad cases of skin rash or sunburn, and these nurses may also provide stitches and bandages for shallow cuts.

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