Clearing Up Care Confusion Understanding the Role of Urgent Medical Care Services


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Navigating the American health care system can be confusing at times, as it can be difficult when and where to seek the appropriate care. For example, while an urgent care physician or health care practitioner may recommend or suggest physical therapy exercises as part of long term care or treatment, urgent care clinics are not equipped to administer physical therapy exercises. In these instances, it’s necessary to follow up with a primary care provider who can then refer the patient to a specialist for further treatment.

So what are urgent medical care services exactly and when should they be sought out?

The care administered at urgent care centers is by no means meant as a replacement for emergency medical services or for the long term care administered by a primary care provider. Rather, urgent care facilities are meant to bridge the gap between these to kinds of care by treating acutely occurring illnesses and injuries that require immediate medical attention but are not severe enough to warrant an emergency room visit.

Hospital emergency departments are best reserved for true medical emergencies, such as numbness or tingling in the limbs, impaired speech or vision, chest pain, shortness of breath, or if an underlying medical condition is present that my complicate or add to the severity of normally non-life threatening conditions. On the other hand, primary care providers are best suited for long term treatment, routine physicals, as well as referrals to specialists.

As the popularity of urgent care clinics continues to increase, and as they continue to expand their services to include things such as x-ray capabilities, in house lab services, dispensaries, and more, the distinct roles played by each kind of medical care facility can become blurred. However, the growing momentum of the urgent medical care movement was instrumental in handling the influx of newly insured patients under the Affordable Care Act. In addition, urgent care facilities continue to deliver affordable, convenient, and quality health care services to patients across the country.

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