WHAT IS URGENT CARE?
Urgent Care is the provision of immediate medical service offering outpatient care for the treatment of acute and chronic disease and injury. It needs a broad and comprehensive fund of knowledge to offer such care. Excellence in care for patients with complex and or uncommon conditions is founded on the close communication and collaboration between the urgent care physician, the specialists, and the primary physicians.
Urgent care is not a substitute for your primary care physician. An urgent care facility like Specialty Care Clinics is a suitable option when someone’s regular physician is on vacation or unable to provide a timely appointment. Or, when disease strikes outside of regular office hours, urgent care offers an alternative to waiting for hours in a hospital Emergency Room.
UNDERSTANDING THE EXTENT OF URGENT CARE PRACTICE
Urgent care practitioners are on the “front lines” of medicine, they need to be proficient in assessing and caring for – at least initially – any patient who walks into an urgent care center or urgent care clinic. For this reason, there is some overlap in the scope of practice between Urgent Care and all existing medical specialties that include direct patient care. Because of the convenience of Urgent Care Centers, patients choose these facilities when they are not able to see their usual doctor in a timely fashion or choose not to go to a hospital emergency department.
For most patients seen in an ambulatory medicine setting, the Urgent Care specialist could fully care for the presenting problem, either independently or in consultation with another specialist. Sometimes patients will need follow-up with or referral to another specialist, transfer to an emergency department, or direct hospitalization (with inpatient care by the consultant). Urgent Care specialists do not perform surgery (other than wound repair and skin lesion removal), do not care for inpatients, and generally do not engage in the continuing medical care of chronic medical problems.
Of all of the existing specialties, Urgent Care shares the most in common with family practice and emergency medicine, even though there is enough uniqueness of practice that Urgent Care, in fact, is a separate specialty with a distinct knowledge base, skill set, and required breadth of experience. Urgent Care shares with Family Practice its broad scope: caring for both male and female patients of all ages with any complaint. Urgent Care differs from Family Practice in that its main focus is on acute medical problems.
Specialization is the result of focused attention and having experience in a particular area, acute care represents the majority of what Urgent Care specialists do – versus Family Practice practitioners who divide their time caring for some acute, but predominantly chronic health problems. Because of this, their experience and expertise in acute care are greater than that of Family Practice practitioners. The Family Practice’s area of practice that is distinct from Urgent Care includes continuity of medical care and, for some Family Practice practitioners, inpatient care and obstetrics.
As with Family Practice, Urgent Care shares a broad scope with Emergency care as well: caring for both male and female patients of all ages with any complaint. Urgent Care varies from Emergency care in that its main focus is on acute medical problems at the lower end of the severity spectrum. Urgent Care specialists have expertise in evaluating and treating these patients with only simple office-based laboratory tests (for example, urinalysis, pregnancy test, rapid strep assay) and X-rays.
There is no immediate access to extensive laboratory testing or advanced imaging (for example, CT scanning, and ultrasound). Those who present to an urgent care center who, in the judgment of the Urgent Care specialist, need this, are transferred to a hospital emergency department.
Due to the simpler administrative procedures and costs related to office-based versus hospital-based practice, similar care in an Urgent Care setting could generally be provided more quickly and economically than in an emergency care setting. The area of Emergency care practice that is distinctive from Urgent Care involves the definitive care of critically sick patients and the ability to observe patients for an extended period of time.
Urgent Care services are medically necessary services that are needed for an illness or injury that would not result in further disability or death if not treated immediately, but need professional attention and have the potential to develop such a threat if treatment is delayed beyond 24 hours. An urgent care condition can be…
- Allergic reaction
- Back pain
- Conjunctivitis (Pink eye)
- Ear infection
- Sore throat
- Insect bites
- Upper Respiratory Infection
If you or anyone you know is suffering from diseases or injuries , our expert providers at Specialty Care Clinics will take care of your health and help you recover.