Knowing When to Get Urgent or Emergency Care


Every day, millions of Americans are hurt or ill, and they are going to need professional medical aid, either convenient care at urgent care centers, or emergency care for serious situations. One may ask: what is the difference between emergency room and urgent care, anyway? These are two different tiers of medical aid, and each one is suitable for different medical cases. If a victim is in dire condition, a helper can look up “emergency rooms near me” or “24 hour emergency care” if the patient needs help at an odd time of day. Meanwhile, for more minor medical cases, going to a walk in clinic is by far the best option. Knowing the difference between emergency room and urgent care can save a person a lot of time and effort, and help the victim get proper care in time. And some medical sites actually offer both kinds of are at the same time.

Emergency Care Done Right

One major difference between emergency room and urgent care is whether the victim’s life may be in danger. A victim whose life is at risk will not get effective treatment at a walk in clinic; rather, they should be rushed to a hospital’s emergency room (ER) or a freestanding emergency clinic right away. The doctors and physicians there will have the right training and medicine to save a life, and there are many reasons why a patient may need this level of care. For example, a patient may have a broken arm or a broken leg, or they have suffered an injury to their head or one or both eyeballs. In other cases, the patient has been stabbed or shot, and bullet wounds and stab wounds may be bleeding heavily (there might even be internal organ damage). If the patient is suffering chest pain or has difficulty breathing, then emergency care is a must, since conditions like these may turn life-threatening at any moment (if they are not so already). And what about abdominal pain? Most cases of abdominal pain are actually harmless, but if that pain is sudden, severe, and/or long lasting, emergency care is the right call. After all, the underlying cause might be quite serious, such as internal bleeding or cancer.

While emergency care can indeed save a life, the ER should not be treated as a universal healthcare center. Such a healthcare provider is best reserved for patients in dire need, and this level of care is too time-consuming and expensive to be worthwhile for minor medical cases. In fact, it is believed that 44-65% of all ER cases could have (and probably should have) been handled at an urgent care center instead. But if it is not clear what level of care a victim will need, the helper can look up hybrid clinic that offer both emergency and urgent care side by side, for a more flexible option.

All About Urgent Care

Another significant difference between emergency room and urgent care is how much time and money is spent on that healthcare. For minor medical cases, going to the ER is excessive, but a walk in clinic will be much faster and cheaper to visit. Thus, urgent care is often known as “convenient care”, and rightfully so. Over 2,500 urgent care clinics can be found across the United States today, and they are small, independent medical sites that can be found in strip malls, inside retailers (retail clinics), or even in hospitals (they offer care that is distinct from the hospital’s). Such clinics may see three patients per hour if they are running smoothly, and they accept various healthcare insurance policies.

A patient may visit one of these urgent care centers to get a prescription drug refill at the clinic’s pharmacy (common at retail clinics), or they can visit during influenza season to get medicinal relief from the common cold or flu. Nurse practitioners on staff can treat shallow cuts with bandages and stitches, and they can also provide ointment and lotion for sunburn and skin rashes. Four in five of these walk in clinics offer treatment for bone fractures, and nearly all of them can treat ankle or wrist sprains. Upper respiratory issues are another common reason why Americans seek convenient care every year.

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