When to Visit an Urgent Care Clinic

The modern American medical industry is a large one, to be sure, but it consists of more than hospitals and their emergency care (ER) rooms. Many thousands of urgent care clinics can be found across the United States today, and these walk in clinics are a relatively low-cost, convenient way to get medical care for non life-threatening medical maladies. If a person is suffering from a minor injury, illness, or other medical case, a nearby responsible adult can look up urgent care clinics in their area online with a mobile device or a PC if they don’t already know one. Entering their ZIP code or city or town name may help refine the search, and the seeker may find the names, addresses, and hours of local urgent care clinics. The same may be done to find a hospital if a victim is in serious condition, but urgent and emergency care should not be confused.

When Emergency Care Is Needed

Some medical cases are too serious for the staff at an urgent care clinic to handle, so the patient may be taken to an emergency clinic or a hospital’s ER for care. They may get private transport, or even take an ambulance there. Either way, trained doctors and physicians can help diagnose a patient and get them stabilized, and allow them to get out of harm’s way and start recovery. A patient may be taken in for emergency care for broken arms or legs, for example, or if they have great chest pain and/or difficulty breathing. Chest trauma can quickly turn life-threatening. A patient may also need emergency care for serious poisoning cases, or for damaged internal organs such as if a broken rib pierced a lung. Stab or gunshot wounds may call for emergency care as well, since they often involve serious trauma and heavy bleeding.

It may be noted that some of today’s medical clinics are a hybrid model, meaning that these urgent care clinics also offer emergency care for patients who truly need it. Someone looking online may find one of these flexible hybrid clinics and take a victim there, if so desired.

Urgent Care

Unless a patient’s life is in danger or soon may be, it’s a better idea to take them (or themselves) to an urgent care clinic in their area. Many thousands of these urgent care clinics can be found across the United States today, and they are often either standalone buildings or found in strip malls for easy access. Some urgent care clinics are in fact built into other buildings such as hospitals or retailers like Wal-Mart or Target. A hospital clinic offers distinct care and medical professionals than the hospital itself, and a patient may visit only for that clinic. Retail clinics often have pharmacies and a staff of pharmacists, making them convenient for shoppers who need to pick up prescription drug refills during their shopping trip.

These urgent care clinics tend to be small and independent, or at most they might form small local networks with one another. What is more, they may often accept guests’ health insurance policies, and they will have a full staff of trained nurse practitioners and physicians alike who can handle a wide variety of health issues. If such an urgent care clinic is running smoothly, a patient may expect a wait time of around 15 minutes, and the clinic might see about three patients per hour.

Guests at such a clinic may get stitches and bandages for shallow cuts, such as if the patient stepped on broken glass or mishandled a knife. Four in every five such clinics may also treat bone fractures, and most urgent care clinics will offer treatment for ankle and wrist sprains, such as joint braces. Nearly 25,000 Americans suffer from ankle sprains every day, such as from playing sports and slipping. Patients at an urgent care clinic may get lotion or ointment for a bad rash, such as from poison ivy, or for a case of sunburn. During influenza season, many patients might visit to get medicinal relief from the common cold or flu. Upper respiratory issues are another common reason why Americans visit urgent care clinics today, and physicians may soon diagnose the problem upon examining them.

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