Whenever anyone gets hurt or ill and needs professional medical attention, a nearby person can look up local urgent care centers, hospitals, or emergency care clinics to find help, and take the victim there. But take note that not all medical cases call for emergency room visits; indeed, emergency room visits are best for patients in dire condition or even life-threatening condition, while minor medical problems require walk in clinic visits instead. But if it is not clear what level of care a victim needs, the helper may look up medical clinics that offer both urgent care and emergency care, and these flexible clinics might also come up in a search for either type of care. Using a mobile device, a helping party can arrange for emergency room visits or urgent care trips, and some clinics are open 24 hours a day. If the victim needs help at an odd time of day, it is especially important to look up 24 hour care to make emergency room visits or urgent care visits possible. So, what does urgent care provide? And when is it time for 24 hour emergency care instead?
All About Emergency Care
Emergency care is essential when a patient is in dire or even life-threatening condition, and the doctors and physicians on staff can provide life-saving treatment right away. A patient may need emergency care, for example, if they have suffered a broken arm or leg, or if they have a head wound or an eye wound. Stab wounds and bullet wounds also call for emergency room visits, and such wounds may be bleeding heavily. Chest pain and difficulty breathing will also merit a visit to the ER, since those conditions may soon turn life-threatening (if they aren’t already). A recent heart attack or stroke also calls for emergency medical attention. And what about abdominal pain? While most abdominal pain cases are actually harmless, emergency medical attention is warranted if that pain was sudden, severe, and/or long lasting. The underlying cause might be serious, such as cancer or internal bleeding.
Emergency care can save a life, but be aware that the ER is not a catch-all medical attention site. This level of care is best reserved for patients in serious need, and visiting the ER for a minor medical case is often much more expensive and time-consuming than is necessary. An estimated 40-65% of ER episodes could have (and probably should have) been treated at an urgent center instead, which would be more convenient for the patient and free up room in the ER for patients who urgently need it. But as mentioned earlier, if it’s not clear what level of care a patient needs, then a hybrid clinic can help, since it provides all levels of care.
Urgent Care Done Right
While emergency care is best for life-saving medical cases, the urgent care industry is responsible for treating a wide variety of minor medical cases that don’t merit emergency room visits. In fact, while this industry is relatively young, it is large and still expanding, and over 2,500 urgent care centers and walk in clinics can be found across the United States today. Many of them are small and independent clinics run by nurse practitioners and physicians, and some of them are open 24 hours a day. Many such clinics are found in strip malls, while some others are retail clinics; that is, they are built into larger retailer such as Walgreen’s and Target. Walk in clinics are much faster and cheaper to visit than emergency services, so they are often known as “convenient care.”
Many urgent care clinics have a pharmacy in them (especially retail clinics), and guests can visit to get a prescription drug refill. During influenza season, guests can get medicinal relief from the cold and flu, and many patients also visit these clinics due to upper respiratory issues. The nurses on staff can provide lotion for sunburn and skin rashes, and they can also provide stitches and bandages for shallow cuts. At these clinics, patients can get treatment for wrist or ankle sprains (these are common injuries), and four in five urgent care sites can also take care of bone fractures.