Urgent care clinics are becoming more popular, which is good news for families all across the country in need of fast treatment. But even though they're now more prevalent, there's also more misinformation floating around about these medical facilities. If you believe any of the following myths, you might not be taking full advantage of the benefits urgent care centers can provide.
MYTH: Every urgent care facility is the same.
Truth: Actually, there's a lot of variation within the urgent care sector. The market is highly fragmented, with most operators owning fewer than three facilities. Some are operated by hospitals or university medical centers, while others are operated totally independently. They often have different hours of operation or varying levels of special services they offer. Some work in conjunction with hospitals or actually function as standalone emergency rooms. That's why it's so important to do your research and find out whether the urgent care locations closest to you operate within your insurance network. If you make the assumption that every walk-in clinic is the same as the next, you could be stuck with a higher bill than necessary.
MYTH: Urgent care can't provide the services I need.
Truth: Unless you are dealing with a life-or-death emergency, it's likely that an urgent care center close to you can provide the treatment you require. There are countless reasons to go to urgent care, from headaches and the flu to getting a sports physical or an STD test. Best of all, the staff at these clinics are extremely qualified -- meaning you'll get the same caliber of care when you visit these facilities as you would when you see your regular physician.
MYTH: Urgent care is for after-hours medical care only.
Truth: One of the reasons to go to urgent care is that these facilities are open when doctors' offices are not. In many cases, you can even seek out urgent care 24 hours a day, seven days a week. But that doesn't mean you have to go to urgent care only when there are no other options available. Because you can simply walk in on short notice and secure an appointment, it's a great alternative to waiting around for your physician to have an opening. You can go to an urgent care clinic at virtually any time of day, on a weekend, or even late at night (in many cases).
There are so many good reasons to go to urgent care: the waits are short, the treatment is high-quality, the locations are convenient, and the costs are typically low. Understanding the difference between fact and fiction can help you make better decisions about where to go for medical treatment in the future
The majority of us experience headaches at least once in our lives. There are a few different types of headaches -- like tension headaches, migraines, and cluster headaches -- and there are numerous causes for why they occur. They may develop due to stress, environmental factors, diet, dehydration, allergic reactions, infections, or other reasons. They may also range quite a bit in pain severity; sometimes, they may present as nothing more than a dull discomfort or tension, but they may also cause debilitating pain that keeps us from being able to go about our daily lives.
When headaches become a chronic, pervasive problem, it's important that we get immediate treatment from our personal physician or even a specialist. But when a particularly bad headache comes out of nowhere and doesn't seem to go away, what can we do? In many cases, it may be appropriate to visit your local urgent care clinic.
When To Go To Urgent Care For a Headache
In rare cases, it may be better to visit an emergency room for headache treatment. While only 3% of patients who go to an urgent care center need to be diverted to the ER, there are some specific situations that may warrant this. For example, a headache that follows severe head trauma should be checked out by emergency room staff. You should also visit an ER if you experience a severe headache that comes on within a matter of seconds, as this could indicate a stroke. Any headache that is accompanied by blurry vision, double vision, or vision loss should also be considered an emergency situation. For the most part, though, you should be able to head to an urgent care center to get immediate treatment for most headaches, recover in a quiet place, and obtain the information you need for the future.
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The most common illnesses diagnosed at urgent care clinics during 2015 were acute upper respiratory infections, acute sinusitis, acute pharyngitis, acute bronchitis, and cough. But these conditions are far from the only ones that the knowledgeable medical staff at these facilities encounter and treat on a daily basis. Infected cuts, scratches, scrapes, and other wounds can be found on the extensive list of conditions that these medical professionals regularly see. While you might not immediately wonder when to go to urgent care if you sustain a small cut or superficial wound, an infection is a different story. Let's talk a bit more about the risks, signs, and preventative methods you should know about when it comes to wound infection.
Risks of Infected Cuts, Scrapes, and Scratches
As we mentioned above, you may not have sought out immediate medical treatment when the initial injury first happened. You might have been able to originally treat that cut or scrape at home, providing you didn't need stitches. But if that injury becomes contaminated with bacteria, this will be your answer of when to go to urgent care.
That's because left untreated, an infected wound can have serious consequences. While an infected cut or scrape might not be a life-or-death situation at first, it can quickly spiral into a true medical emergency. Infections can cause the healthy tissue surrounding the wound to die, resulting in the loss of limbs. In some situations, the infection can spread to the bloodstream and cause septic shock. That can cause organ failure or fatalities.
Of course, this won't happen right away -- so if you catch an infection early and seek out medical treatment immediately, you should make a full recovery. But that's why it's essential to take action quickly. It's also why you'll need to learn to recognize the signs of a potential infection.
Signs Your Wound Is Infected
The majority of wounds are actually contaminated with some type of bacteria. Normally, your body is able to fight that off with no problem. Wound infections occur when your body's natural immune defenses are no match for the bacterial contamination. And because even very small wounds are susceptible to infection, you'll need to watch for the telltale signs that you or someone you love may need additional medical treatment. Here are some symptoms to watch for:
How to Prevent Infected Wounds
If you don't even want to have to wonder when to go to urgent care for wound treatment, you'll need to care for it properly from the start. Be sure to use a clean cloth and apply pressure to stop any bleeding. Once it's stopped, clean the wound with warm water and soap, gently removing any debris you find. If there is dirt you cannot remove, you'll want to seek out medical treatment. Assuming you can remove any and all dirt, apply antibiotic ointment, dry the area, and cover it with gauze and/or a bandage. Be sure to change your dressings when they become wet or dirty, as well as every day to wash the wound. Do not pick at or around the wound. If the wound will not stop bleeding, will not close, or doesn't seem to be healing (or you observe any of the aforementioned signs of infection), call your doctor or go to your local urgent care center.
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Throughout the 2015 fiscal year, urgent medical services reported seeing an average of nearly 12,000 patients. That number amounts to an average of three patient care visits per hour or 32 visits each day. From chest pain and headaches to high fevers and complicated symptoms, urgent medical centers are essential for treating all kinds of medical concerns.
There is a common misconception when it comes to healthcare: that emergency rooms are much more viable options for health concerns than urgent care centers. That's not true. Though emergency rooms are great and even essential for certain injuries, illnesses, and any life-threatening medical situations, they aren't necessary for every single visit. In fact, only 3% of patients who come to an urgent care facility end up needing to be directed to an emergency department, according to Becker's Hospital Review.
The benefit of hybrid urgent medical facilities, however, is that they can perform both urgent care services and emergency room services. Emergency centers typically offer more immediate health assistance, when urgent care services deal with issues that are still serious, but not as life-threatening or emergency-related. Keep in mind, however, a trip to an urgent care center can quickly turn much more serious and require ER treatment if the symptoms are concerning enough. For instance, though upper respiratory infections are one of the most common reasons for people to head to urgent care facilities, these problems can quickly spiral into much more serious and potentially life-threatening health concerns.
Because of all the complications that can arise within the medical industry, it's best to visit these hybrid centers that specialize in both urgent medical services and emergency treatment. Be sure to never neglect any issue pertaining to your health and consult with an experienced doctor about what type of medical treatment you should be receiving.
Dealing with any health issue can be terrifying, but as long as you're receiving the correct medical attention, you will be in good hands and will likely be back on your feet in no time. If you believe you're in need of urgent medical services, visit LegacyER right away. Stay healthy out there!
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