Every day, countless Americans will get hurt or ill, and they are going to need professional medical treatment. But do they need a visit to the ER? Serious and life-threatening cases do call for emergency aid, but many other medical cases are minor, and this is when urgent care centers are involved. Walk in clinics are much faster and cheaper to visit than the ER, and a patient who needs flu treatment or stitches, for example, can get convenient care at any such clinic. Whenever someone needs this kind of care, then a nearby responsible party can look up “urgent care centers near me” or “walk in clinics nearby” to get the name, address, and hours of operation of local clinics, not to mention check out patient reviews and ratings. Should the patient need flu treatment at an odd time of day, such as at 3:00 AM, they should look up a 24 hour urgent care clinic in particular, since not all clinics are open at all hours. Now, what sort of treatment can a patient get there? When is it time for urgent care?

Common Ailments

A wide variety of wounds and illnesses may call for medical attention at an urgent care center, such as the common cold and flu. Americans catch about one billion colds (collectively) per year, and a cold may last two to 14 days, though 10 days is more the norm. A nasty cold will require medicinal treatment, and the same is true of most flu cases. In fact, the flu may turn deadly in some cases. And it’s not just flu treatment a patient may need at a clinic; some 48 million Americans come down with food poisoning every year, when they eat poorly prepared food that has harmful bacteria or viruses in it. This can result in an upset stomach.

Meanwhile, many physical hazards exist in everyday life too, and many people are accidentally cut with knives, razors, and broken glass, or they may get their skin pierced with nails or large staples. Don’t forget sun exposure either, especially in summer, which can cause bad cases of sunburn or even melanomas. Sunburn calls for urgent care right away.

Finding Urgent Care Centers

Fortunately, the urgent care industry is a robust and rapidly-growing one, and a few thousand urgent care centers have been built across the United States since the year 2000. A typical urgent care center, or walk in clinic, is a small and independent medical site, though they are known to sometimes form local networks with one another. Such clinics are staffed with nurse practitioners and physicians who can provide stitches, bandages, flu treatment, and more for non-emergency medical cases. An urgent care center, as mentioned earlier, is faster and cheaper to visit than the ER, and a walk in clinic that’s running smoothly may see three patients per hour or so. A guest may expect a wait time of 15 minutes, and they may have their medical insurance accepted at the clinic, too (this varies). Overall, this is much more practical for minor cases than visiting the ER, and it frees up room in the ER for patients who truly need it.

Many urgent care centers are found built into strip malls, making them easy to access and get parking for. Others are housed inside retailers such as Target or Walmart, and these retail clinics are quite convenient for shoppers. Sometimes, urgent care clinic are found inside hospitals, and they offer distinct care and staff from the hospital itself. A patient can get urgent treatment there and ignore the hospital at large.

A walk in clinic will usually have a pharmacy and trained pharmacists on hand, and this may be especially true for retail clinics, so shoppers can get drug refills with their convenience. Four in five urgent care centers can treat bone fractures, and nearly all of them also treat wrist and ankle sprains (common injuries). The nurse practitioners on staff can provide lotion for sunburn and skin rashes, and stitches and bandages for shallow cuts. Often, these clinics not only provide flu treatment, but they also host flu shot drives every year, where many guests can get vaccinated before flu season starts.

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