What is Urgent Care and When Should You Use It?

stethoscopeAll too often, we’ll be sidelined by an injury, or suffering from a lingering cough, and not know where to go for care.  When the symptoms aren’t severe enough to visit the emergency room, and your doctor’s office is closed, urgent care might be a better bet for treatment!

What is urgent care?

Urgent care centers fill in the gap between traditional hospital emergency rooms and doctor’s offices by offering same-day care on a walk-in basis.  Urgent care centers, also known as walk-in clinics, provide immediate treatment for urgent, but not life-threatening emergencies for minor injuries and acute illnesses.

While the answer is not always simple, knowing the difference between urgent care and emergency care, and where to seek treatment, could potentially save your life in a medical emergency.

When to visit the emergency room

Hospital emergency rooms provide care for any medical concern 24/7.  They are equipped to handle even the most complex or critical needs, including life-threatening situations such as traumatic incidents following a car accident to heart attacks and strokes.

There are a number of medical conditions that require the care found at an emergency room department including:

  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Slurred speech
  • Weaknesses/numbness on one side
  • Fainting/loss of consciousness
  • Head or eye injury
  • Severe burns
  • Severe bleeding
  • Seizures

The best way to determine if you are in need of care that needs to be provided in a hospital setting.  If your instincts tell you to go to the ER, trust your gut.

When to visit urgent care

Many patients visit their local emergency room after normal doctor’s office hours for minor injuries and illnesses not knowing they have another option.  Urgent care centers can handle a range of medical conditions that need to be treated right away, but not are considered life-threatening.  Some symptoms that can be evaluated or treated at an urgent care center include:

  • Small cuts that require stitching
  • Sprains and strains
  • Colds and flu-like symptoms
  • Mild fevers
  • Skin rashes from tick bites
  • Seasonal allergy symptoms
  • Dehydration

While urgent care centers are not a substitute to your primary care physician, they are a great resource for when you need treatment without the cost of the emergency room, and for times when you can’t get a last-minute appointment with your doctor.

AFC Urgent Care Fairfield offers urgent care services for children and adults seven days a week, and no appointment is necessary to be seen.  Not only do we provide urgent care services for non-life-threatening injuries and illnesses, we also provide services like sports physicals and travel medicine.  For more information about the services we provide, please call to speak with one of our medical professionals 203-583-8400.



3700 Cahaba Beach Road Birmingham, AL 35242

Our Mission and Values:

Our mission is to provide the best healthcare possible in a kind and caring environment, in an economical manner, while respecting the rights of all of our patients, at times and locations convenient to the patient.

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