Urgent care

Medical Specialties: Emergency medicine, Family practice, Internal medicine


Clinical Definition

Urgent care is a category of medical services intended to treat acute and chronic medical problems. Considered ambulatory care, it is delivered on a walk-in basis. It differs from an emergency room in the seriousness of illnesses, injuries and conditions treated. Staff in the urgent care setting treat patients who require immediate medical care, but whose conditions do not appear to be life threatening or require an emergency room visit. 


In Our Own Words

Urgent care is a type of immediate medical care provided on an outpatient basis without an appointment. Urgent care is for conditions that do not appear to be life threatening, but are bothersome enough or sufficiently concerning that they can’t wait until the next day, when a primary care doctor could see them. Because many urgent care centers are open evenings and weekends, they can be a convenient option when a primary care doctor’s office is not open. Urgent care is not a substitute for emergency care, and conditions such as poisoning, severe bleeding, heart attack symptoms, moderate to severe burns, and other serious illnesses require a visit to the emergency room. 

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