When to Visit Urgent or Emergency Care


Americans young and old will sometimes sustain wounds or get ill, and they need to be taken to the correct care facility right away for treatment. For everyday scrapes or influenza, for example, a patient may be taken to a local urgent care facility or a walk in clinic, and clinic care may be administered in a timely fashion. However, if a patient has suffered from life-threatening injuries or a major medical condition, he or she should be rushed to emergency medical clinics or a hospital right away. A nearby responsible adult may call 911 for an ambulance, or they may drive the patient there if able. In other cases, a responsible adult may look online for an urgent care facility in their area, such as by using their ZIP code or the name of their street or town/city. Someone may search “convenient urgent care facility San Diego CA”, for example, to find local clinics and get their names and addresses. What is there to know about an urgent care facility or the ER today?

Going to the ER

Emergency medical care is not to be confused with urgent care, as both are meant for different level of urgency or medical conditions. For patients with serious injuries or conditions, emergency care is the only real option, and the doctors and physicians at an emergency care clinic or hospital ER will have the tools, training, and medicine to help. A patient will be taken out of harm’s way and given a chance to recover and stabilize. A patient may go to an emergency care center, for example, if they have suffered broken arms or legs, or if they have suffered stab or bullet wounds on their bodies. Heavy bleeding or damaged organs, such as if a rib punctured a lung, call for the ER. Patients may also be taken to emergency care if they have serious chest pain or difficulty breathing, which may become life-threatening very soon.

It should be noted, however, that not just any patient should visit emergency care. Many of today’s patients are better off with urgent care for everyday conditions, and around 44-65% of all ER episodes could have been handled at an urgent care clinic instead. This can help save room for the patient who truly need emergency care.

Finding an Urgent Care Facility

A patient may go in for urgent care if they have suffered from non life-threatening, everyday illnesses or wounds. As mentioned earlier, a person may find such a clinic for themselves or a nearby victim with an Internet search on a PC or a mobile device, and get the hours and driving directions to such a clinic. Many thousands of such clinics can be found across the United States today, and they tend to be either small and independent clinics or they may be joined into small, local networks with each other. They tend to be staffed with nurse practitioners and physicians who have the medical training and medicine to treat everyday ailments, and they may accept various healthcare insurance policies. A patient may want to check this ahead of time, however.

Such clinics may be built into strip malls, or even built into larger retailers such as Target or Walgreens. Retail clinics often have pharmacies in them as well, so a shopper there may pick up groceries and also get their drug prescriptions refilled. Other urgent care clinics may be built into hospitals, but it should be noted that the hospital’s services and staff are kept strictly distinct from those that the clinic itself provides. A patient may visit for that clinic and completely ignore the hospital at large.

Why might a patient visit an urgent care facility or a walk in clinic? Many of these clinics can help patients take care of ankle or wrist sprains, which are common issues today. Some 25,000 Americans suffer from ankle sprains per day, such as from playing sports or jogging. Four out of every five urgent care clinics may also help with bone fractures, and many of them will provide bandages and stitches for cuts, such as if the patient was exposed to broken glass. Clinics may also offer medicine for relief against the common cold or flu, or ointment for rashes.

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