Urgent care facilities are quickly becoming a larger and larger part of the U.S. health care landscape. Since 2008, the number of urgent care facilities has grown from 8,000 to over 9,300, with more than 20,000 family care physicians practicing urgent care medicine. As of 2011, the average urgent care center saw 342 patients per week, according to the Urgent Care Association of America.
Yet, many people still head to emergency rooms when urgent care facilities could have addressed their issue in less time, for less money. That being said, urgent care facilities don’t make emergency rooms obsolete. They simply handle the medical situations that aren’t necessarily emergencies. The ones that need urgent medical attention, but aren’t life threatening.
Here’s what you should know about this difference.
Emergencies are conditions that can permanently impair or endanger an individual’s life. For example, severe chest pain, difficulty breathing, signs of a stroke, signs of a heart attack, compound fractures, convulsions, seizures, loss of consciousness, severe abdominal pain, pregnancy-related issues, serious head injuries, knife wounds, gunshot wounds, poisoning, profuse bleeding, and moderate to severe burns are all emergencies.
Urgent medical conditions are those medical situations that aren’t life threatening, but do warrant the attention of a medical professional within 24 hours. For example, accidents and falls, urinary tract infections, sprains, strains, skin rashes, infections, moderate back problems, minor broken bones and fractures, mild to moderate asthma breathing difficulties, bleeding requiring only a few stitches, diagnostic services (such as lab testing or X-rays), eye irritation, fever, flu, vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, severe sore throat, and heavy cough are all examples of urgent care medical situations.
Urgent care facilities have smaller wait times, and accept most family health care plans, making them as speedy as they are affordable. That being said, if you have an actual medical emergency on your hands, do not go to an urgent care facility. Go to the ER.
If you want family quick care, go to an urgent care facility. If you have any questions about the situations urgent care facilities treat, feel free to share in the comments.