Americans young and old will sometimes suffer from injuries or illnesses in their everyday life, and when these afflictions are not life-threatening, the patient may be taken to any urgent care clinics in their area. These are not emergency rooms at a hospital, but rather, they are convenient clinics that may offer affordable and timely medical assistance with a non life-threatening problem. When a victim needs to be taken to a nearby walk in clinic, a responsible adult may conduct an online search on a PC or a mobile device to find medical care clinics in their area. Such a search may involve the patient’s city or town, and even include their ZIP code to further refine the search. Queries such as “medical attention clinics in Boston MA” or “urgent care clinics in Dallas TX” may show some nearby clinic that are open for operation, and a responsible adult may take the patient there. What is there to know about the urgent care industry in the United States today?
The Urgent Care Business
Thousands of urgent care clinics can be found across the United States in the 21st century, and for decades clinic such as these have offered non-emergency care for patients with a wide variety of healthcare needs. Most towns and cities have at least a few such clinics in them, and some rural areas have urgent care clinics as well. Construction crews are hard at work every year building new urgent care centers in rural communities that don’t yet have one, allowing more Americans than ever to get timely urgent care whenever they need it. Most of these clinics tend to be small and independent, although some of them may be formed into modest local networks with one another. Some of them are built into strip malls across the United States, but others may be built into hospitals or retailers.
Hospital urgent care centers are indeed found inside hospitals, but patients should note that the medical care and staff at such clinics is distinct from the hospital they are built into. This is practical for patients who need urgent care but not actual emergency care, and they can ignore the hospital itself and visit the clinic instead. The hospital’s ER is not the right place for an urgent care patient, especially since those emergency rooms tend to cost much more to visit and have longer wait times than urgent care clinics do.
Meanwhile, many urgent care clinics are found inside major retailers across the United States, such as Target, Walmart, and Walgreens, among others. These large retailers are easy to find and have ample parking, meaning that the urgent care centers inside are also easy to visit. These clinics tend to have pharmacies in them as well, and trained pharmacists on hand. This is convenient for shoppers who would want to get their prescription drugs refilled during a shopping trip. Such retail clinics may or may not have similar hours of operation as the retailer they are built into.
Wherever an urgent care center may be found, these clinics are staffed with nurse practitioners and physicians who have the right training and medicinal supplies to treat many non life-threatening ailments. If such a clinic is running smoothly, the staff there may treat an average of three patients per hour, and a patient may expect a wait time of 15 minutes or so. A patient may also check to see if their healthcare insurance policies are accepted there.
Four out of every five such urgent care clinics can treat patients with bone fractures, and may also treat broken fingers or toes. Most of these clinics can also treat ankle or wrist sprains, which are common physical injuries among Americans today. The staff at these clinics can also provide stitches and bandages for shallow cuts, such as when a patient stepped on or touched broken glass. Many patients visit these urgent care clinics if they have an upper respiratory problem, which is common, and many patients may visit to get medicinal relief for the common cold or flu. Patients may also get lotion and ointment for skin problems, such as a rash from allergies or poison ivy, or sunburn. Clinics on the California beach, for example, may treat many sunburns.