Knowing When You Need Emergency or Urgent Care

Americans young and old will sometimes suffer from illnesses or injuries that call for medical aid, and this often takes the form of urgent care centers or emergency care. But urgent medical needs and life-threatening emergencies are different, and when a victim needs care, a nearby party should know the difference. If the patient has urgent medical needs, they can be taken to a walk in clinic or even a 24 hour urgent care location nearby. To meet the victim’s urgent medical needs, a nearby party may use a PC or smartphone to look up local urgent care centers, and find one that is currently open and conveniently nearby. A clinic’s hours, name, and address will be listed online. This is sufficient for urgent medical needs, but what about a life-threatening emergency? Or what if it is not clear what level of care the patient needs? Fortunately, there are hybrid clinics out there that offer both urgent and emergency care side by side, and this can be very helpful.

What Emergency Care Can Do

The highest level of medical care is emergency care, best reserved for life-threatening medical cases where a patient needs to be stabilized right away. A hospital’s ER should not be treated as a catch-all medical site, and minor illnesses or wounds are better off treated at an urgent care location. But in other cases, emergency care is a must, and a life may be saved with doctors and physicians on hand.

What calls for emergency care? A patient may have suffered broken arms or legs, or they may have sustained injuries to the eyes or the head. In other cases, a patient may have bullet or stab wounds that are bleeding heavily, and there may be internal organ damage, too. Meanwhile, other patients may need emergency care if they are experiencing difficulty breathing or chest pain, and these conditions may turn life-threatening at any moment, if they aren’t already. Patients who just suffered a heart attack or a stroke will also certainly need emergency care. But what about abdominal pain? Most cases of abdominal pain are harmless, such as from gas or indigestion, but if the pain is strong, sudden, and/or long-lasting, emergency care is right response. Such pain may come from something serious, such as internal bleeding or even cancer.

Emergency care can be found at a hospital’s ER (emergency room), or even from standalone emergency clinics. As mentioned above, some healthcare clinics are a hybrid model, offering emergency and urgent care side by side. This is helpful for urgent medical needs and life-threatening cases alike, making for a flexible clinic. If it is not clear what level of care a patient needs, such a hybrid clinic may be a safe bet.

Getting Urgent Care

If emergency care is for life-threatening cases, then urgent care is for nearby everything else. Urgent care centers, staffed by nurse practitioners and physicians, can handle a wide variety of minor wounds or illnesses among patients. Ever since the early 1990s, many of these clinics have been built across the United States, and they are quite common today. They tend to be small and independent clinics, though some may form small local networks with one another. Many such clinics are built into strip malls, and some are built into retailers, complete with pharmacies for the convenience of shoppers. These clinics are quick and cheap to visit compared to the ER, and a clinic that’s running smoothly may see three patients per hour or so. A guest may expect a wait time of around 15 minutes.

Patients may visit a local walk in clinic not only to get their prescription drugs refilled, but also to get medicinal relief from the common cold or flu during influenza season. Meanwhile, a guest at these clinics may get stitches or bandages for shallow cuts with the help of nurses on staff, and patients may also get ointment and lotion for bad cases of sunburn or skin rashes. Around 80% of these clinics offer treatment for bone fractures, and most will also take care of ankle or wrist sprains. Meanwhile, upper respiratory issues rank among the most common reasons to visit a doctor’s office or a walk in clinic in the United States today.

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