Whenever someone gets hurt or ill, they are going to need prompt and professional medical care, but the question may be: should the victim go to the hospital? This will almost definitely be the case for serious and life-threatening medical emergencies, but not all medical cases call for the ER. Most often, Americans young and old have minor medical problems that call for urgent care instead, which is not to be confused with emergency care. These are two different levels of care, and since it’s often faster and cheaper to visit walk in clinics, this sort of treatment is often known as “convenient care” as well. When someone is hurt or ill, a nearby responsible party can look online to find local urgent care centers, if they don’t already know one. This way, they can find out the name, address, and hours of operation of each urgent care provider, and refer to patient reviews and comments as well. And if the patient needs care at an odd time of day, then it is important to find 24-hour clinics in particular.

Common Medical Ailments

Americans catch one billion colds per year, and a cold may last anywhere from two to 14 days, though 10 is closer to the norm. A bad cold is something to take seriously, and urgent care centers can provide medicinal relief when a patient visits. Meanwhile, the flu is even more dangerous, such as during influenza season, and a flu might even turn deadly. But it’s not just the cold or flu that can make a person ill; some 48 million Americans get food poisoning per year, when they eat poorly prepared food with harmful bacteria or viruses in it. This results in an upset stomach.

Meanwhile, everyday life means constant hazards such as sharp objects or nails that can cut or pierce the skin, and it’s not uncommon for people to cut themselves on broken glass, poke themselves with a nail or large staple, or get cut with a knife or razor by accident. Also, the very sun can be a hazard, mainly during summer, since overexposure to sun rays means risks of sunburn and even skin melanomas. This calls for urgent care at the hands of medical professionals.

Visiting Urgent Care Clinics

The good news is that when a patient needs urgent medical attention, they have a lot of options. Ever since the year 2000, a few thousand different urgent care centers have been built across the United States, and more are built all the time as this industry expands. Where are all these clinics found? Often found in urban areas, they can be located in strip malls, meaning they are easy to access and get parking for. A number of urgent care clinics are also found in large retailers such as Target, Walmart, or Walgreens, known as retail clinics. Some other clinics can be found in hospitals, providing distinct care and staff from the hospital at large. So, a patient may visit those hospital clinics for urgent care while ignoring the hospital itself.

A typical urgent care center is a small and independent medical site staffed with nurse practitioners and physicians, and these clinics sometimes form small local networks with one another. As mentioned earlier, it’s usually much faster and cheaper to visit them than going to the ER for minor medical cases, and besides, this frees up room in the ER for patients who truly need it. A clinic that’s running smoothly may see three patients per hour, and a guest’s wait time might be as short as 15 minutes. Many urgent care clinics also accept a variety of healthcare insurance policies.

Guests can visit these clinics not only for medicinal relief from the cold and flu, but also to visit the pharmacies that are typically found in these urgent care centers. Walk in clinics are also known to host flu shot drives, to get local populations fully vaccinated. Four in five urgent care centers can provide treatment for bone fractures, and nearly all of them can treat wrist and ankle sprains, too. Staff can also offer stitches and bandages for shallow cuts, and lotion for bad sunburns and skin rashes. Upper respiratory issues are another common reason to visit walk in clinics.

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