By taking patients who would normally go to an ER for non-life threatening illnesses or accidents, an urgent care facility tends to patients with acute conditions with quality care while allowing the emergency room staff to handle cases that involve true life and death situations.
WHO CAN BENEFIT FROM URGENT CARE?
Urgent care facilities are designed to benefit just about anyone who needs urgent medical attention–as long as the condition is not life threatening (heart attack, stroke, knife wounds to the chest or heart, and severed limbs are good examples). The ultimate goal is to provide care to individuals who need medical attention but do not require the services of an emergency room.
Most doctor’s offices don’t have xray capabilities. That is the only similarity between an urgent care and an ER. ER’s have cat scans and ultra sound machines while urgent care’s don’t. Urgent care facilities typically have the same types of diagnostic equipment featured at your family doctor’s office, and more. Well-equipped facilities even feature x-ray equipment to quickly assess possible fractures. Urgent care offices typically operate far past the normal business hours of general practitioners–late into the evening and even on weekends and holidays.
By offering these services, they make it easy for a person to get the medical attention they need without waiting in line at a sometimes overcrowded emergency room.
WHAT MAKES URGENT CARE DIFFERENT?
There are several aspects that make urgent care different from both a traditional doctor’s office and an emergency room. Most family doctors have set hours that must accommodate the patients as well as potential shifts at the local hospital. This can dramatically impact a patient who needs medical attention for an acute health issue or injury. If your doctor’s office is fully booked, you used to only have one another option–the emergency room. With urgent care facilities, you can receive the attention you need, when you need it, and often without an appointment.
When comparing urgent care facilities to emergency rooms, the critical comparison has to do with time and the seriousness of the injury. Emergency rooms are designed to handle severe medical emergencies. Many individuals will go to an ER if they have a medical issue when their normal doctor’s office is closed. If their injuries are not life threatening, their cases can eventually clog the ER, causing long wait times as true emergencies are pulled ahead in the queue. While each case may require medical attention, individuals with minor emergencies can go to an urgent care facility, allowing ER staff to handle life and death cases more efficiently.
Also called walk-in clinics, urgent care facilities generally feature low to no wait times, ensuring that you or a sick loved one are seen by a doctor without delay.
WHAT SERVICES ARE OFFERED BY URGENT CARE FACILITIES?
Urgent care facilities offer the same services as your primary care physician (although it is recommended that you continue to see your family doctor or specialist for chronic conditions and well-checkups!). They also offer many of the same services of as an emergency room, such as x-rays.
Urgent care facilities are ideal when it comes to minor injuries and illnesses that call for medical attention but are not serious enough to warrant a visit to the ER. They can also effectively diagnose and stabilize symptoms indicative of illnesses that are not overly serious.
Some of the conditions treated at urgent care facilities include:
- Minor burns
- Fractures/broken bones
- Sore throat
- Sinus infections
- Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea
- Sports injuries
- Cold and flu
- Animal bites
- Ear infections
- and much more!
ARE URGENT CARE FACILITIES AS RELIABLE AS A HOSPITAL EMERGENCY ROOM?
Urgent care staff members are highly qualified and well-trained medical professionals who are just as reliable as a primary care or emergency room physician. They must have the same credentials as any other medical professional who offers care to patients. Urgent care facilities must also meet or exceed the standards mandated by the state when it comes to patient care and the confidentiality of patient information. They are required to keep the same records and comply with the same health care guidelines as hospitals and larger health care facilities.
An urgent care facility must have the ability to properly care for patients who would otherwise be forced to go to an emergency room. This requires having on staff professional health care providers that are capable of handling various levels of illness and injury. They must also be able to recognize when an injury or illness requires more in-depth treatment than their facility is able to offer. When that occurs, they must be able to offer a referral to the local emergency room. If the condition is severe enough, an ambulance may be called so that constant care can be continued during transport.
When it comes to the advantages of primary care physicians and emergency rooms, urgent care facilities provide the best of both worlds. Urgent care facilities are capable of handling countless illnesses and conditions quickly and efficiently, at a very reasonable price, with short wait times and excellent service.
Central Alabama Urgent Care is an area leader in minor emergency services.