The modern American healthcare system is a large and diverse one, and medical care providers range from urgent cares services to pediatricians to the hospital, and everything in between. But when does a victim need urgent cars vs emergency room care? These are not the same thing, after all, and going to the wrong type of medical service can complicate things. Walk in clinics are effective at providing urgent cares, and hospital emergency rooms are indeed ideal for treating emergency and life-threatening injuries and illnesses. If someone is hurt or ill, a nearby party can look up local urgent care clinics in the area with a mobile device, and get the name, address, and hours of operation of local clinics. For emergencies, it’s time to take the patient to the hospital, or call 911 and get ambulance. For the most part, though, Americans need urgent cares, not emergency care.
Emergency Care Done Right
For reference, what does emergency care entail? Only the most serious or life-threatening cases actually call for this level of care, and trained doctors and surgeons can stabilize a patient and get them out of danger while they recover. This is when the hospital and emergency care clinics can come into play. For example, a patient with a broken arm or leg will need emergency care, and the same is true if they have suffered a head wound or a damaged eyeball (such a a cracked skull or concussion). Serious trauma such as bullet wounds or stab wounds also call for the ER, as such wounds may be bleeding heavily and cause organ damage. If a victim has serious chest pain or difficulty breathing, they will also need the ER, since conditions like that can turn life-threatening at any time, if they aren’t already. As for abdominal pain, most cases are minor and don’t require the ER, but if that pain is sudden, severe, and/or long lasting, emergency care is the right call, since the cause may be something serious such as internal bleeding or even cancer.
It may be noted that going to the ER is costly and time-consuming, and minor medical cases don’t usually justify an ER visit. Besides, it is better to save room in the ER for patients who truly need it, and a patient with minor medical issues is better off getting urgent cares at a clinic somewhere nearby. Fortunately, there are many clinics available to help.
Urgent Care Clinics Visits
The urgent care industry is a young one, but it is both popular and widespread, with over 2,500 walk in clinics having been built since the year 2000 across the U.S. These clinic are typically small and independent, and are staffed with nurse practitioners and physicians who can treat a wide variety of minor medical problems. As for where to find them, many walk in clinics can be found built into strip malls for easy access, and some are also found inside large retailers (known as retail clinic). Yet others are built into hospitals, and they offer distinct care and staff from the hospital itself. Some urgent care centers are in fact pediatric clinics, meaning there are pediatricians on staff who can care for young patients, including infants.
What calls for a visit to an urgent care center? During influenza season, many Americans go to urgent care clinics to get medicinal relief from the common cold and flu, and upper respiratory issues are another common reason to visit such clinics. Many of these clinics also host flu shot drives during certain times of the year. Meanwhile, it is typical for clinic guests to get stitches and bandages for shallow cuts and wounds (such as from mishandling knives), and the nurse practitioners on staff can provide lotion and ointment for skin rashes and sunburn. What is more, four in five urgent care sites can take care of bone fractures, and nearly all such clinics can offer treatment for a sprained wrist or ankle (these are common injuries). Finally, take note that most walk in clinics, especially retail clinics, have a built-in pharmacy with trained pharmacists, so guests can get prescription drug refills at their convenience (shoppers often do this during a shopping trip at Wal-Mart or Target, for example).