Every day, many people are going to get hurt or ill, and they will need professional medical attention. Victims in dire condition should be taken to emergency care clinics or a hospital’s ER, and victims with minor problems may be taken to walk in clinics for urgent care instead. A hospital’s ER is not a universal healthcare provider; urgent care centers are ideal for minor problems, and often much faster and cheaper to visit, too. So, when a victim needs help, a nearby party may look up the necessary type of medical center, such as “urgent care centers miami FL near me” or “emergency room hospitals near me dallas TX” online and find some results. They may find the name, address, and hours of operation of local healthcare providers, and if the victim needs help at an odd time of day, the helper may look for 24 hour healthcare providers in particular. What is there to know about visiting the ER vs going to a walk in clinic?
Emergency Care Done Right
As mentioned earlier, a hospital’s ER is best reserved for patients who are in dire condition, and their very lives might be in danger. Fortunately, the doctors and physician at an emergency care provider will have the correct training and medicine to save a life. A patient being brought here might have a broken leg or broken arm, for example, or they may have suffered bullet wounds or stab wounds that are bleeding heavily. Head wounds and eye wounds also call for emergency care. A patient who has chest pain or difficulty should be brought to the ER right away, since such conditions may soon turn life threatening at any moment, if they are not already. A patient who just suffered a heart attack or stroke will also need the ER. And what about abdominal pain? Most cases of abdominal pain are actually harmless, but if that pain is severe, sudden, and/or long lasting, then the patient may need emergency care, since the underlying cause might be quite serious.
A hospital’s ER is not a catch-all medical care site, though, and it is best reserved for patients who are in serious condition, as described above. An estimated 40-65% of ER patients could have and should have visited urgent care clinics instead, and besides, it is much faster and price-friendly to visit those urgent care centers for minor medical issues. But suppose it’s not clear what level of care a patient might need? In this case, they can be taken to a hybrid medical site, one that offers both urgent and emergency care side by side.
Urgent Care and Clinics
A patient who needs help for minor, non life-threatening issues can be taken to (or even take themselves to) an urgent care clinic in their area. Fortunately, this is a large and still growing industry, with over 2,500 such clinics being built in the United States since the year 2000. Most often, these urgent care sites are small and independent clinics that are staffed with nurse practitioners and physicians, though such clinics can also form small local networks with one another. An urgent care clinic, if it is running smoothly, may see three patients per hour, and a guest may expect a wait time of around 15 minutes. These walk in clinics tend to accept a variety of healthcare insurance policies, too, and some may be open 24 hours a day. Many urgent care clinics are built in strip malls, though many are also found in large retailers or even in hospitals (they offer distinct care from the hospital itself).
Guests at an urgent care clinic may visit the pharmacy inside to get a prescription drug refill, or they can get medicinal relief from the common cold and flu during influenza season. Four in five walk in clinics offer treatment for bone fractures, and nearly all of them will also provide treatment for sprained wrists or ankles, too. The nurses on staff may provide lotion and ointment for skin rashes and sunburn cases, and they can also provide stitches and bandages for shallow cuts and wounds. Upper respiratory issues are another common reason to visit these urgent care clinics.