What You Should Know About Urgent Care

Every day, countless Americans are going to get hurt or ill, and they need professional medical care right away. Should they go to the hospital? Not necessarily. Bear in mind that urgent care and emergency care are two distinct types of medical care, and certain medical cases will definitely call for one or the other. Serious and life-threatening cases require an ER visit, but for the most part, Americans tend to visit urgent care centers and walk in clinics for treatment. Urgent care is the right call for minor and everyday medical issues, and this is much faster and cheaper than visiting the ER, anyway. When a patient needs this sort of medical attention, a nearby responsible party can look up local urgent care centers if they don’t already know a location, and note the name, address, and hours of operation of each local clinic (and refer to patient reviews and ratings). If the patient needs help at an odd time of day, in particular, it’s best to look up 24 hour clinics to find available medical care.

Common Illnesses and Wounds

Why might someone need to visit a walk in clinic or urgent care clinic? There are many reasons, with the common cold and flu ranking high among them. During influenza season, someone suffering from a bad cold or flu can visit urgent care sites, and get medicinal relief. Around one billion colds are caught every year across the United States, and a typical cold may last around 10 whole days. The flu, meanwhile, might even turn deadly, so it’s essential to find medical care. Also, some 48 million Americans get food poisoning each year, by eating poorly prepared food and getting sick from the bacteria or viruses in it. An upset stomach is a good reason to seek medical attention. Also, many everyday objects such as nails or knives can cut or pierce a person’s skin, not to mention broken glass or razors, and a bad cut will need a professional’s attention. During summer in particular, being outside too long means risking sunburn and melanomas due to exposure. All this and more calls for urgent medical care.

Visiting Urgent Care Centers

Fortunately, the urgent care business is a robust one, and ever since the year 2000, a few thousand urgent care centers and walk in clinics have been build across the United States. These are small, independent medical care providers that are staffed with physicians and nurse practitioners, and they have been known to sometimes form small local networks with one another. Often, this is called “convenient care” since, as mentioned earlier, these clinics are faster and cheaper to visit than the ER (and this saves room in the ER for patients who truly need it). Costs and wait times vary, but a clinic that’s running smoothly may see three patients per hour, and a guest might have a wait time as short as 15 minutes. These clinics often accept a variety of healthcare insurance policies, too.

Where are these clinics found? Many of them are built into strip malls for easy access and parking, and others are found inside retailers, and they are known as retail clinics. Large retailers such as Walmart, Target, and Walgreens, among others, are known to house them. Meanwhile, some walk in clinics are even found inside hospitals, though they offer distinct care and staff from the hospital at large. It is possible for a patient with minor medical needs to visit that clinic, and ignore the hospital itself.

What sort of treatment can clinic guests expect to receive? As mentioned earlier, patients often visit to get medicinal treatment from the common cold and flu during influenza season, and urgent care centers also often host flu shot drives to keep everyone safely vaccinated against disease. Even adults sometimes need updated shots. Four in five urgent care centers can also provide treatment for bone fractures, and nearly all of them can also take care of a sprained wrist or ankle. The nurse practitioners on staff may provide stitches and bandages for shallow cuts and wounds, and they can also provide lotion and ointment for skin rashes and sunburn. Most urgent care centers also have a pharmacy that guests can visit for prescription drug refills.

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