Americans young and old alike will sometimes need professional medical attention, and this means finding urgent care nearby, or even emergency care clinics if need be. When a victim is hurt or ill, a nearby responsible adult can look up urgent care nearby if they do not already know where some urgent care centers are located. Finding urgent care nearby may involve an Internet search on a smartphone such as “where is urgent care near me”, and the client may look up “24 hour urgent care centers” if they need to find urgent care at an odd time of day. Meanwhile, urgent care nearby may be found for children when the client looks up “pediatric urgent care nearby” or “family urgent care near me.” But what is the difference between urgent care and emergency care? These may sound similar, but they are in fact two different levels of care.
Knowing When to Get Emergency Care
When does a patient need emergency care? This is a high level of care that can help a patient whose life is in danger, and a hospital’s ER and an emergency clinic will be staffed with doctors with the right training and medicine to save a life. A patient may need emergency care, for example, if they have suffered a broken arm or a leg, or other major bones. Meanwhile, difficulty breathing or chest pain will call for emergency care, as these conditions may turn life threatening at an time, if they are not already. Bullet or stab wounds also call for the ER, and those wounds may be bleeding heavily and also involve internal organ damage. Injuries to the head or eyeballs also call for emergency care right away. And what about abdominal pain? Most cases of abdominal pain are in fact harmless, but if the pain is severe, long-lasting, or sudden, then it is time for the ER, just to be safe. The underlying cause might be quite serious, such as internal bleeding or even cancer.
Of course, an ER should not be treated as a catch-all medical care site, as minor and non life-threatening wounds or illnesses should be taken care of at urgent or walk in clinics nearby. It is often much cheaper and faster to visit these walk in clinics, but in some cases, it may not be clear what level of care a patient needs. If this happens, a nearby responsible adult might take the victim to a hybrid clinic that offers both urgent and emergency care services side by side.
All About Urgent Care
In contrast with emergency care, urgent care concerns itself with minor and everyday illnesses and wounds, and over 2,000 urgent care centers and walk in clinics can be found across the United States today. These urgent care centers are staffed with nurse practitioners and physicians who have the training and medicine to treat a wide variety of minor health issues among patients, and many such clinics may also have pharmacists on hand, too. These clinics tend to be small and independent, and may sometimes form small local networks. If a clinic is running smoothly, it may see three patients per hour, and a guest may expect a wait time of around 15 minutes. Guests may also check ahead of time if a clinic accepts their healthcare insurance policy.
These clinics are often found in strip malls for easy access, and some may be found in retailers, known as retail clinics (which usually have pharmacies). Some urgent care clinics can be found in hospitals, though they offer distinct care and staff from the hospital itself.
At an urgent care center or walk in clinic, a patient may visit the pharmacy to get a prescription drug refill, and during influenza season, clinic guests may get medicinal relief from the common cold or flu. Four in five of these clinics offer treatment for bone fractures, and nearly all of them also offer treatments for sprained wrists and ankles. Patients may also get stitches and bandages for shallow cuts applied with the help of nurses, and ointment and lotion may be applied to bad cases of sunburn and skin rashes for clinic guests. Upper respiratory issues, meanwhile, are another common reason for Americans to visit urgent care centers.