When to Visit an Urgent Care Center

When to Visit an Urgent Care Center

Americans young and old will sometimes need professional medical care if they are ill or injured, and this means knowing how to find the right urgent care centers, walk in clinics, or even 24 hour emergency care clinics. If a victim needs help, a nearby responsible adult may look up something on a PC or smartphone such as “24 hour emergency clinic near me” or “urgent care centers nearby” and find a list of results. Not all of these clinics are open 24 hours a day, but some are, and an online search will show name, hours, and address of each nearby clinic. While emergency centers and walk in clinic are meant for adult patients, comprehensive specialized pediatric care can be found too, and that is for patients under 18 years old. Children and babies may receive comprehensive specialized pediatric care at the hands of pediatric doctors at a pediatric urgent or emergency care clinic. But what is the difference between urgent and emergency care? And what about comprehensive specialized pediatric care?

Emergency Care

Put simply, emergency care concerns itself with serious medical cases where a life may be in danger, or if the injuries are too severe for an urgent care clinic to handle. A broken arm or leg may merit emergency care, and the same is true of head or eyeball injuries. Serious chest pain or difficulty breathing also call for emergency care, since these conditions may soon turn life-threatening, if they aren’t already. A patient in emergency care may have suffered stab or bullet wounds, or deep cuts that are bleeding heavily (and there might be organ damage, too). And what about abdominal pain? Most cases of abdominal pain are in fact harmless, but if the pain is severe, sudden, and/or long lasting, going to emergency care is by far the safest option.

However, a hospital’s ER should not be treated as a catch-all for medical care, as they are best reserved for serious medical cases. Minor wounds and medical maladies call for urgent care centers, which are typically much faster and cheaper to visit anyway. But some clinics are a hybrid model, offering urgent and emergency care side by side. This is a great option if it is not clear what level of care a victim may need.


If a baby or child is hurt or very ill, the parents should take their young one to a pediatric care clinic for comprehensive specialized pediatric care at the hands of specialized doctors. These medical professionals are familiar with the anatomy of babies and children, and know what sort of medical issues often affect them. Youngsters often suffer from colds and ear infections, for example. An ordinary urgent care clinic is meant for adult patients, but comprehensive specialized pediatric care is possible at these pediatric clinics once the parents seek them out online. Pediatric care may also include routine shots and immunization for a child, to bolster their growing immune system.

Walk In Clinics

Meanwhile, urgent care centers and walk in clinics can handle any medical case too minor to merit the ER. Ever since the year 2000, a few thousand of these clinics have been built across the United States, and they are typically small, independent clinics staffed with nurse practitioners and physicians. These clinics are often found in strip malls, retailers, and hospitals, though a hospital clinic will offer separate care and staff from the hospital itself. Retail clinics nearly always have a pharmacy in them for the convenience of shoppers who want to pick up a prescription drug refill.

A guest at an urgent care clinic may not only visit the pharmacy, but also get medicinal relief from the common cold or flu during influenza season. Not only that, but upper respiratory issues are another common reason to visit walk in clinics, too. A patient there may get lotion or ointment for a nasty case of sunburn or a skin rash, and the nurses on staff may provide stitches and bandages for shallow cuts. Four in five walk in clinics offers treatment for bone fractures, and nearly all of them can provide care for a sprained wrist or ankle. And a clinic that is running smoothly may see about three patients per hour.

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