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What to Know About Urgent Care

Every day, countless Americans young and old get hurt or ill, and they often need professional medical attention. But going to the ER isn’t always the right call; in fact, the ER is only suitable for treating emergency and life-threatening cases, which contrasts with the field of urgent care. Urgent care, which is often called convenient care, can handle minor medical issues, and medical treatment can take a wide variety of forms at a typical walk in clinic. When a victim needs this level of medical care, a nearby party can look up urgent care centers online if they don’t already know a location, with a query such as “urgent care centers near me” or “convenient medical care nearby.” This will show the address and name of local clinics, not to mention their hours of operation. Not all urgent care sites are open 24 hours a day, though, so if a patient needs care at an odd time of day, then it’s best to look up “24 hour convenient care nearby.”

Common Health Hazards

Why might someone need a visit to a walk in clinic? Many minor health hazards exist in daily life, and certain infections, rashes, or wounds call for expert medical attention. Each year, some one billion Americans get colds, and often, these colds can get nasty, to say nothing of the flu during influenza season. Cold symptoms can last anywhere from two to 14 days, usually around ten, and at some point the ill person will want to get urgent care for that. Also, some 48 million Americans suffer food poisoning, when harmful bacteria are present in poorly prepared food, and this can be distressing and even fatal in some cases. An upset stomach definitely calls for professional care at a walk in clinic or doctor’s office. Also, during summer especially, too much sun exposure will cause sunburn, and a person may risk a melanoma or other skin conditions. And of course, any number of sharp or pointed objects may cut or pierce a person’s skin, and that calls for care as well. Urgent care centers are the answer.

Visiting Walk In Clinics

The good news is that walk in clinic and convenient care centers are easy to find, and every city and nearly every town has at least a few of them in operation. A few thousand urgent care clinics have been built since the year 2000, and most of them are small, independent medical care sites that are known to sometimes form small local networks. A typical urgent care center will be staffed with nurse practitioners and physicians who are ready and willing to treat various minor medical problems for patients, and these clinics may accept a wide variety of healthcare insurance policies. Visiting these clinic is also much faster and cheaper than going to the ER; while costs and wait times may vary, an urgent care clinic that’s running smoothly may see three patients per hour. A patient might wait as little as 15 minutes for prompt care at a lower price than the ER, and thus this is known as “convenient care.”

Where are they found? Many walk in clinic are built into strip malls for easy access and parking, and others are found inside larger retailers, such as Target, Walmart, and Walgreens, for the convenience of shoppers. Yet other urgent care centers are found inside hospitals, but take note that these care centers provide distinct services and staff from the hospital itself. A patient who needs urgent (rather than emergency) care can go to that clinic and ignore the hospital at large.

Many of these urgent care sites have a pharmacy with trained staff inside, so guests can get prescription drug refills at their convenience. Retail clinics in particular are known to do this. During influenza season, clinics guests can get medicinal relief from the common cold and flu, too. Meanwhile, the staff can provide lotion and ointment for skin rashes and sunburn, and they will also stitch up and bandage shallow cuts, such as if a patient had stepped on glass. Around 80% of these clinic also provide treatment for bone fractures, and practically all of them can handle wrist and ankle sprains, which are certainly common injuries, especially among athletes.

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