Knowing the Difference Between Urgent and Emergency Care

Whenever a victim becomes hurt, ill, or suffers some other medical problem, it is vital that a nearby responsible adult can find urgent care clinics or 24 hour emergency care centers to get them proper medical attention. If the nearby adult does not already know some local urgent care clinics or walk in clinics, they can use an Internet-capable device to look up those urgent care clinics and emergency care centers nearby. A query such as “urgent care clinics near me” or “emergency care services close by” can show the name, address, and hours of each nearby clinic of the correct type. And if the victim needs urgent care clinics or emergency clinics at an odd time of day, such as 3:00 AM, the seeker can look up 24-hour clinics in particular. Not all urgent care clinics are open 24 hours a day, but some are. But what is the difference between urgent and emergency care? Knowing that difference can save someone a lot of hassle.

What to Know About Emergency Care

Emergency medical care concerns itself with the most serious medical cases, those where a patient’s very life might be in danger. Convenient care clinics will not do; a hospital’s ER will be required, or emergency centers in the area. Such medical centers are staffed with doctors and physicians who have the right medicine and training to get a patient out of harm’s way, and allow them to recover. A patient might need the ER for a broken arm or a broken leg, for example, or a patient might have suffered a head injury or injuries to one or both eyeballs. Similarly, a patient at emergency care might have suffered stab or bullet wounds that are bleeding heavily, and there may be internal organ damage. Difficulty breathing and chest pain require a visit to the ER as well, since such conditions may soon turn life-threatening, if they are not already. And what about abdominal pain? Most cases of abdominal pain are in fact harmless, but if that pain is severe, sudden, and/or long lasting, then it is t8ime for urgent care since the underlying cause might be quite serious.

It may be noted that a hospital’s ER or an emergency clinic should not be treated as a catch-all medical site, since these clinics are best reserved for patients who are truly in life-threatening condition. A patient with more minor wounds or illnesses is urged to get convenient care at an urgent care center or a walk in clinic, and those clinics tend to be much faster and cheaper to visit than emergency services anyway. Still, some medical centers today are a hybrid model; that is, they offer both urgent and emergency care, side by side. These flexible clinics are a great option if it is not clear what level of care a victim might need. A nearby responsible adult might seek out those hybrid clinics in particular, and take the victim there.

Urgent Care Done Right

Meanwhile, urgent care concerns itself with minor medical cases that are not life-threatening, and the good news is that over 2,000 urgent care clinics can be found across the United States today. These clinics tend to be small and independent facilities, and they are staffed with nurse practitioners and physicians who have the training and medicine to deal with minor medical cases. Walk in clinics can be found in strip malls for easy access, and some are in fact found in retailers, or even in hospitals. A clinic that is running smoothly may see three patients per hour on average, and a patient may expect a wait time of around 15 minutes.

At these clinics, a visiting patient may get a prescription drug refill at the clinic, or they may get medicinal relief from the common cold or flu during influenza season. Also, four in five urgent care clinics provide medical care for bone fractures, and nearly all of these clinics can help a patient with a sprained wrist or ankle. Nurses and physicians on staff can provide stitches and bandages for shallow cuts or wounds, and the staff may also provide ointment and lotion for nasty cases of sunburn or skin rashes.

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