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the American Emergency Care Association estimates that there are approximately 13,000 to 16,000 emergency care centers in the United States. Many illnesses and injuries that require prompt treatment but are not real emergencies are ideally suited for assessment in an emergency care center. If your personal physician is not available, a visit to an emergency care center can provide convenient access to quality health care. In communities that do not yet have an emergency care center, the local hospital emergency department may be overrun with inappropriate visits – visits that involve relatively minor issues that may be better suited to the emergency center. urgent Care. Emergency care centers are often a better choice for on-demand access to health care, because emergency care centers in general:

  • have shorter waiting times,
  • have convenient access to the community,
  • focus on the management of mild to moderate acuity conditions (and not on the management of life-threatening emergencies), and
  • are equipped to treat more serious conditions than the average primary care physician (offering x-rays, sutures, and administration of intravenous fluids).

On the other hand, some illnesses or injuries are not suitable for treatment in an emergency care center and must be assessed and treated in a hospital emergency department. Examples of these types of emergency conditions are:

  1. a fifty-year-old woman with intermittent chest pain for the past twenty-four hours (may be a heart attack),
  2. a 10 year old girl with a fever of 104 ° C who is not fully conscious and has a rash all over her body (may be meningitis),
  3. a twenty-year-old man suffering from severe neck pain following an accident on the highway (possibly a broken neck),
  4. a seventy-year-old man who fell down a staircase and has not fully recovered from the concussion (possibly a brain hemorrhage), and
  5. a chemotherapy patient with a high fever (can be a serious, life-threatening infection).

Most non-fatal illnesses and injuries, however, can be assessed and treated in an emergency care center. Here are some examples of conditions that often present appropriately in emergency care settings:

  • a five-year-old boy suffering from diarrhea for two days,
  • a forty-year-old man suffering from rib pain after slipping in an icy parking lot,
  • a twenty-year-old man burning with urination,
  • a four-year-old girl who has tripped and has a sore ankle,
  • and many other mild to moderate illnesses or injuries.

In general, if you think you have a state of emergency, go to a hospital emergency room. If in doubt, you can call your doctor or local emergency care center to help you decide whether an emergency care center or hospital emergency department is more appropriate.

AT find an emergency care center in your community, you can try the following ideas:

  • Search the phrase “urgent care mycity”; (for example, “urgent care chicago”) on a major search engine (Google, Yahoo or MSN).
  • Access the Practice Velocity Emergency Care Directory on the Practice Velocity webpage (www.practicevelocity.com)
  • Search your health insurance directory for emergency care centers that participate in your health plan.

Emergency care centers generally provide quick and convenient access to health care. When you need to see a doctor today (and you can’t go to your personal doctor) for an illness or injury that is not a real emergency, an emergency care center can be a great place to be. option instead of the emergency department.

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Authors biography
David Stern, MD sits on the Board of Directors of the Urgent Care Association of America, is a partner of Physisians Immediate Care, is a regular contributor to the Journal of Urgent Care Medicine, and is CEO of PV Emergency Care Solutions.

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