Urgent care facilities offer care outside of normal business hours. They also provide immediate care when other options are not available or if the condition does not warrant a trip to the emergency room. Emergency rooms are often overcrowded, which results in long waiting lines. Patients who want to be treated in a timely fashion often choose urgent care centers because they are more convenient and offer most of the same services as an emergency room. Patients who experience an acute illness after business hours can go to an urgent care treatment center and receive a much quicker response as well as an accurate diagnosis.
For as much as an urgent care center offers, it does not handle life-threatening injuries/illnesses, hemorrhaging wounds, dismemberment, or severe burns. These types of injuries require a highly specialized trauma team to provide the type of care needed to save the person's life. If a person is in doubt about whether or not to choose an urgent care facility or an emergency room, err on the side of caution and choose the emergency room. This will save much needed time, especially if it turns out to be a life-threatening situation. If a person goes to an urgent care facility and the doctor determines that trauma care is needed, the patient will be transferred immediately.
The benefits of an urgent care facility include reduced wait time, longer hours, and increased availability. The physicians at an urgent care facility offer the same basic treatment options as a primary care provider. The main differences are longer hours and a wider selection of services. Urgent care facilities also have access to their own diagnostic labs and examination equipment, much like what is found in an emergency room. With the facility's extended hours, they offer patients options to the emergency room when no other primary care physicians are open. The doctors at an urgent care facility may have specific response training that can help in emergency situations that are not life-threatening.
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