Knowing What Level of Care to Seek


The American medical care industry is a massive one, but there is more to medical care than getting surgery done in a hospital. The medical care service also expands to pediatric clinics, ENT doctors, and of course, convenient care such as walk in clinics and urgent care clinics. After all, some patients may need more care than others, and minor burns or back pain don’t call for the emergency room at a hospital. Rather, these minor burns or back pain cases can be treated at urgent care clinics or at one’s private doctor. Children suffering from minor burns or back pain can be taken to a pediatrician, and minor burns or back pain may involve non invasive treatment. Patients may also note that some clinics today are in fact hybrid models, offering both urgent and emergency care. When a responsible adult is looking for a care facility for a nearby victim, they may choose such a hybrid clinic for convenience’s sake.

Emergency Care

Some medical facilities may offer urgent care, emergency care, or both. What is the difference? Emergency care is for patients in life-threatening condition, whose injuries, condition, or illness may threaten their life unless soon treated. A hospital’s ER is a fine place for this, or an emergency care clinic. A patient may get this level of care for serious chest pain or difficulty breathing, for example, which may turn life-threatening at any time. Major trauma such as broken arms or legs, damaged internal organs, heavy bleeding, or head wounds also call for emergency care, where the doctors and physicians will have the right tools and training for the job. However, some Americans who visit emergency care facilities do not even need that level of care, and they are taking up space that other patients may urgently need. More minor medical maladies call for urgent care instead, which may be much more time-efficient and cost-friendly anyway.

What Emergency Care Can Offer

Contrasting with emergency care, urgent care is for patients with minor, non life-threatening conditions such as minor burns or back pain, and more. Urgent care clinics have been built in the United States since the 1990s, and thousands of them can be found today in cities and many towns. Someone who needs care at such a clinic may look online to find them, such as “walk in clinics near me”. Someone looking for this level of care may specify that they are looking for 24 hour care, if they are looking for urgent care at an odd time of day. Doing this may show a list of local clinics, including each clinic’s name, address, and hours of operation.

Some of these clinics may in fact be a hybrid model, offering both urgent and emergency medical care for any patient who arrives. This is highly convenient for any patient whose level of necessary care is unknown, as some cases may blur the line. The staff on site will know what to do, and administer the correct level of care for a patient.

What about urgent care in itself? Urgent care clinics, and hybrid ones too, are often found in strip malls, making them easy to find and get parking for. Some such clinic are built into larger retailers such as Target or Walgreens, known as retail clinics. These clinics are convenient for shoppers to visit, and nearly always have a pharmacy on hand with trained pharmacists. Many different over the counter medicines may be purchased here, too. Some urgent clinics are built into hospitals, but patient should note that they offer distinct care services and staff than the hospital at large.

A patient may visit an urgent care clinic during influenza season, and get medicinal relief against symptoms of the common cold and flu. Four in five such clinics also offer treatment options for bone fractures, and nearly all of them can also take care of sprained wrists or ankles. Shallow cuts can be treated with stitches and bandages that the nurse practitioners on staff can administer, and skin problems such as sunburn or rashes can be treated with ointments and lotions. Upper respiratory issues are another common reason to visit these urgent care clinics.

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