When to Visit an Urgent Care Center

It is a simple fact of life that Americans, young and old, will sometimes suffer from everyday illness or wounds. When this happens, there is no need to panic. A responsible adult can take control of the situation and look up a local urgent care center or a walk in clinic, and take the patient there for treatment. Many thousands of urgent care centers exist across the United States, and nearly every city and town is bound to have at least a few of them. Some of these walk in medical care clinics are open 24 hours a day, and even those that aren’t will have broad hours of operation. When a person searches in a GPS, smart phone, or PC to find a health care service like this, they may find the names, addresses, hours of operation, and other information for nearby clinics. Why might someone need to visit an urgent care center? What else is there to know about them?

On Urgent Care Clinics

Speaking broadly, urgent care covers any everyday, non life-threatening wound, illness, or other health complication, and medical care centers are the facilities where these problems can be treated by medical professionals. As mentioned above, many thousands of these clinics can be found in the United States, and they are typically independent or part of a small local network with each other. They may be standalone buildings or worked into strip malls.

It should be noted that some urgent care centers are retail clinics, meaning that they are built into larger retailers such as Target, Walmart, and Walgreens. These large retailers are easy to find and easy to get parking for, so this can be convenient for someone who may want to visit the clinics inside them. Typically, retail care clinics have pharmacies built into them and pharmacists on hand who can refill drug prescriptions. It may be convenient for a shopper to visit for their regular shopping, and also get a drug refill on the way. These clinics may have similar hours of operation as the parent retailer, but a guest may want to check the exact hours of a nearby clinic just to be sure.

Similarly, some urgent care clinics are built into hospitals. It should be noted, however, that the medical care provided by the clinic and the hospital are distinct and do not overlap. Doctors or nurses from the hospital or clinic typically will not cross over into each other’s work, so a visiting guest may go to that clinic for everyday care and bypass the rest of the hospital.

An urgent care clinic will be staffed by nurse practitioners and physicians who have the tools, medicine, and training to take care of everyday wounds and illnesses. If these clinics are running smoothly, they may see about three patients per hour, and a patient may expect a wait time close to 15 minutes when they visit. These clinics may often accept various healthcare insurance policies, but a patient may want to check ahead of time to see if their policy is accepted there.


What might send someone to an urgent care clinic? Minor trauma may be the reason. About four in every five urgent care clinics offers treatment for bone fractures, and this can be a major relief for a patient. Most of these clinics can also handle ankle sprains or wrist sprains, which are also common issues. Every day, nearly 25,000 Americans suffer from ankle sprains, such as while playing sports. Aside from that, the staff at a clinic may offer stitches and bandages for shallow cuts, such as if a person stepped on broken glass or mishandled a knife. A clinic may also be able to treat broken fingers or toes.

The common cold and flu are other reasons to visit an urgent care center, and a patient may visit to get medicine and relief from their symptoms. Food poisoning or a stomach flu may also be good reasons to visit, and a patient with a bad poison ivy or other allergy rash may visit for ointment and lotion for relief. Upper respiratory infections are another common reason to visit an urgent care center among Americans today.

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