When to Find Urgent or Emergency Care


Sometimes, Americans young and old will suffer illnesses, conditions, or injuries that call for medical attention, and it is important that any victim is taken to the proper type of medical facility for care. Urgent care clinics, walk in clinics, and emergency care services can all be visited, though an emergency clinic is in fact different from an urgent care clinic. They may sound similar, but they offer different levels of care, and it may not be practical to visit an emergency clinic when an urgent care clinic will do instead. Instead, when a victim needs help, a nearby responsible adult may look up the correct type of medical facility and take the victim there. This may involve a query such as “urgent care clinics near me Boston MA” or “24 hour emergency care Dallas TX.” Not all clinics are open 24 hours a day, and a client may need to find a 24-hour place if a victim needs care at an odd time of day. What sort of medical cases call for urgent care clinics vs emergency ones?

Getting Proper Emergency Care

Put simply, emergency care is for any victim whose injuries or condition is life-threatening, or may soon become life-threatening. No ordinary urgent care clinic will do; these victims need a facility whose doctors and physicians have the proper training and equipment to get a patient out of critical condition. Often, a hospital’s ER will do fine for this, or a nearby emergency clinic. Getting someone here on time can save a life.

What calls for this level of care? Serious trauma such as broken arms or legs, or broken ribs, require emergency car, not to mention injuries to the head or the eyeballs. A patient may also need this level of care for heavy bleeding or organ damage, such as from stab wounds or bullet wounds, where blood loss may become lethal if not addressed. Meanwhile, conditions such as chest pain or difficulty breathing also necessitate emergency care, as such conditions may soon become life-threatening if they aren’t already. A victim who recently suffered a heart attack or a stroke will also need this level of care.

Meanwhile, a victim whose medical maladies are minor and not life-threatening will not need emergency care, and a hospital’s ER should not be thought of as a catch-all for medical care. An urgent care clinic will work better.

Urgent and Walk In Clinics

A patient with non life-threatening medical problems will probably be taken to (or even take themselves to) urgent care centers instead of emergency care. A few thousand urgent care centers can be found across the United States today, with most of them being small and independent facilities, though some form local networks. They are staffed with nurse practitioners and physicians who can handle a wide variety of medical issues, and most also have a pharmacy on the premises. Many of these urgent care clinic are built into strip malls for ease of access, though some may be built into retailers or even hospitals.

A retail clinic is in a large retailer such as Target or Walgreens, and these clinics usually have a pharmacy for the convenience of shoppers who need a prescription drug refill. Meanwhile, hospital clinics are indeed built into hospitals, though they offer distinct and separate staff and care from the hospital itself. Some urgent care clinics might even be free-standing.

An urgent care clinic that is running smoothly may see three patients per hour, and a patient may expect a wait time of around 15 minutes. What might be treated here? Four in five urgent care clinics offer treatment for bone fractures, and most of them can also take care of wrist or ankle sprains as well. A patient may visit to get stitches and bandages for shallow cuts, and a patient may also visit because of an upper respiratory problem. During influenza season, patients may visit to get medicinal relief from the cold and flu, and guests at these clinics may also get lotion for rashes or sunburn.

It may also be noted that some clinics today are a hybrid model, meaning that they offer both urgent and emergency care for patients. This is convenient and helpful it’s unclear what level of care a victim will need.

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