When a victim gets injured or ill, or suffers some other medical problem, it is important that someone nearby can take them to an urgent care center or an emergency care center as needed. Many medical issues call for professional help, and a responsible person can find such help through an online search if they have to. For example, they can look up “urgent care clinics near me” or “24 hour urgent care centers nearby” to get the name, address, and hours of local walk in clinics. And of course, the most serious medical cases require the emergency room or an emergency clinic’s services, and this can in fact save a life. So, what is the major distinction between urgent care and emergency care? They are not to be confused, since it can be inconvenient and expensive to visit the wrong sort of clinic. Some clinics, though, are known to offer both types of care.
Emergency Care Done Right
Put simply, emergency care is for the most serious and life-threatening medical cases, and a life might be on the line. This is a job for emergency clinics and a hospital’s ER, where doctors, surgeons, and physicians can get a patient stabilized. A patient may be brought here because they have broken arms or legs, for example, or if they have suffered an injury to the head or the eyeballs. The same is true if the patient has suffered from stab wounds or bullet wounds, which might be bleeding heavily. Severe chest pain and difficulty breathing also merit a visit to the ER, since those conditions might turn life threatening at any moment, if they aren’t already. Someone who just experienced a stroke or heart attack will certainly need emergency care as well.
What about abdominal pain? Most abdominal pain is in fact harmless, but if the pain is sudden, severe, and/or long lasting, then the underlying cause might be serious (such as internal bleeding or cancer) and call for the ER, just to be safe.
However, visiting the ER is not a good idea for minor medical issues, since emergency clinics are not all-purpose medical care sites. A patient with minor issues can save a lot of time and money when they visit urgent care clinics instead, and there are many such clinics out there. Note that some clinics today are hybrids, which offer both emergency and urgent care. This makes them a flexible choice for medical care, and visiting one is a great idea if it’s not clear what level of care a patient will need.
If emergency care is for the most dire medical cases, then urgent care can handle the rest. Over 2,000 urgent care clinics and walk in clinics can be found across the United States today, and they tend to be small and independent clinics run by nurse practitioners and physicians. Some such clinics form small, local networks with one another, and some urgent care sites are open 24 hours per day. Where are they located? Many are built into strip malls for easy access, though some others are built into major retailers, for the convenience of shoppers who want to visit a pharmacy. Some urgent clinics are built inside hospitals, and they offer distinct care from the hospital itself. That’s very helpful for patients who don’t need the ER.
What can a guest expect at an urgent care center? It’s often much faster and cheaper to visit them than the ER, and thus they are nicknamed “convenient care.” A clinics that’s running smoothly might see three patients per hour, and many of them accept various health care insurance policies. Most of these clinics have a pharmacy built into them, where guests may pick up prescription drug refills as needed. Meanwhile, four in five urgent care clinics also provide care for bone fractures, and nearly all such clinics also can treat wrist or ankle sprains (which are common injuries). Patients may also get stitches and bandages for shallow cuts, and the nurses on staff can also provide lotion and ointment for bad cases of sunburn or rashes. During influenza season, clinic guests may get medicinal relief from the common cold and flu, too.