When an individual experiences an injury or sudden illness, it is often difficult to schedule an appointment with a primary healthcare provider. Getting a same-day appointment during an non-emergency situation is usually out of the question. For this reason, emergency rooms are filled with people who are not experiencing true emergencies but are in need of relief from acute conditions such as a sprained ankles or sinus infections. Going to an emergency room for diagnosis and treatment is not only expensive, but it also means that people with more serious conditions will wait longer than needed to be seen by emergency room staff.
Some people might not think twice about going to an emergency room for treatment for a sudden illness. However, it is not appropriate to go to an emergency room for every ache or pain. Illnesses and injuries treated in an emergency room include life-threatening illnesses and those requiring immediate treatment to prevent permanent damage or disability. For example, when an individual experiences chest pains or has difficulty breathing, he or she needs immediate medical attention. In fact, these are reasons to call 911 as soon as possible. Other conditions that demand immediate attention include stroke symptoms such as blurred vision, numbness, slurred speech, and muscle weakness. Bleeding that will not stop, head trauma, and high fevers in young children require assessment and treatment by emergency care providers. Victims of gunshots or knife wounds are candidates for emergency treatment.
An urgent care center should be near the top of everyone’s list of medical resources whenever treatment is needed for non-life-threatening conditions. Doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals can order x-rays and other tests to diagnose illness and prescribe treatment. Centers have the ability to address several types of medical issues, including fractures, sprains, and minor asthma attacks. Cuts that bleed and may require stitches, flu, and sore throat are also conditions that may be treated. Patients seen in urgent care facilities are usually treated within 1-2 hours of arrival and encouraged to see their primary physicians if further treatment is required. When the provider deems the condition serious, a patient may be instructed to go to a hospital emergency room.
Urgent care centers play a vital role in providing affordable, accessible health services to patients. These facilities offer much more than treatment for acute conditions; the centers also offer school physicals, sports physicals, and certain vaccinations. Additionally, centers may provide occupational health services related to workman’s compensation claims. Urgent care staffs often participate in employee wellness activities such as health fairs where they use the latest technology to provide health screenings, blood pressure checks, and other assessments.Sickness and injury know no schedules. Facilities that provide urgent care offer services outside of regular business hours, with some operating around-the-clock. A patient may seek treatment on weekends, during early morning hours or evenings. Appointments are not necessary. Unless the patient makes special arrangements, he or she will be expected to pay at the time of service, but health insurance often covers all or a portion of the cost.