Finding the Right Urgent Care Clinic


It’s a fact of life that every so often, a person may suffer injury or illness, and the key to good health and recovery is knowing what sort of medical care to get, and how to find these places and get the best treatment. A hospital, for example, offers different services than a walk in urgent care facility, and an urgent care clinic has certain advantages or disadvantages over visiting one’s personal physician. Knowing how to find an urgent care clinic and what to expect can make any health problem manageable.

The Hospital and the ER

Some injuries or developing conditions can be life-threatening, and in this case, an urgent care clinic is not sufficient, especially since a doctor will not be on hand. Instead, visiting the emergency room is essential if certain problems arise. Severe chest pain, for example, could be a symptom of an approaching heart attack, and difficulty breathing can grow complicated and threaten a life, so going to the ER is vital for these conditions. Similarly, serious injuries such as stab or bullet wounds, or eye or head injuries, call for a visit to the ER, along with large broken bones. But visiting the ER can be expensive, and not everyone who goes there even needs it. In fact, a private study done by Milliman estimates that 44% to 65% of all ER visits could have been done at an urgent care clinic or a walk in clinic instead, and this can not only save money for the patient but clears room in the ER for patients who definitely need it.

At an Urgent Care Clinic

A medical clinic will not have doctors or life-saving equipment on hand, but patients with more minor wounds or illnesses are best treated at a walk in clinic for urgent care. There are many such clinics across the United States numbering in the thousands, and often, searching for “24 hour urgent care near me” into a smart phone or computer will show the nearest one, as well as driving directions. These clinics are busy, but can move fast through the waiting patients. On average, a clinic can see three patients per hour, and wait time may be as low as 15 minutes. Medical expenses will usually be much more modest than at a hospital ER, and these expenses can often be paid out of pocket. And if a patient has a condition that really does call for an ER instead, the staff will refer that patient to an appropriate facility right away.

Walk in clinics and urgent care clinics are staffed by nurse practitioners and physicians and their assistants, and they can treat such conditions as bone fractures, rashes, the cold and flu, allergies, and a cough. In fact, four out of five such care centers can deal with bone fractures, and they can also handle sprains. Every day, it is believed, 25,000 American suffer an ankle sprain. Some of these urgent care clinics are in fact retail clinics, meaning that they are worked into grocery and retail centers such as Target, Wal-Mart, and Walgreens, where urgent care is provided, as well as drug prescriptions. The convenient location and parking of these retail centers means that finding and visiting such a clinic can be easy.

Physicians and Pediatricians

Walk in clinics and hospitals can be visited as needed, but another option is for a person to visit his or her personal physician. This doctor requires an appointment to visit, making them a difficult choice for sudden cases, but otherwise, this doctor can provide superior care due to knowing each patient’s medical history and needs. Some physicians are specialized in certain body systems, such as the heart, blood, or endocrine system.

Younger patients will be sent to a pediatrician. This physician deals with patients aged from newborn to about 18, as well as the unique anatomy and health of this age group. Like with other physicians, a pediatrician can specialize in one field such as the heart, and pediatricians in general are more familiar with the particular illnesses and ailments common to young patients. These doctors also provide mental health services to children such as behavioral therapy, plus treating mental disorders or illnesses that are commonly associated with adults like anxiety or depression.

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