Urgent Care vs. Emergency Room Treatment: Choosing the Right Level of Medical Services

A young medical practitioner uses a tongue depressor to peer into the open mouth of a school-age girlUrgent care clinics were developed in the 1980s to provide short-notice medical care that didn’t require booking an advance appointment at a traditional doctor’s office or waiting long hours to see an emergency room physician. Today, urgent care centers have become a mainstay in the health care industry, with more than 10,000 urgent care locations across the U.S. When it comes to offering convenient, affordable health care for non-life-threatening health conditions, urgent care clinics have found their niche. Yet many patients still find it difficult to determine when they should seek treatment at an urgent care center and when they should head to the ER.

Springfield Urgent Care, which provides walk-in urgent care services to residents and tourists in many southeast Michigan communities, is pleased to offer some guidelines that can help make this decision easier.

When to Go to the ER

Life-threatening illnesses and injuries can happen at any hour, so emergency departments are open 24/7. A hospital emergency room is also staffed and equipped to provide surgery and other high-level treatment that an urgent care clinic is not. People who have gunshot wounds, severe burns, or uncontrolled bleeding from a car accident are all best treated at an emergency department.

Few people would question whether to seek ER treatment for injuries like the ones above, but there are other symptoms that may be less clear cut. For example, it’s best to head to the ER or call 911 if you or a loved one has:

  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Seizures
  • Slurred speech and confusion
  • Weakness or numbness on one side
  • Head trauma that could have caused a concussion
  • Deep cuts or facial lacerations that may require stitches
  • Fever with a rash
  • Vaginal bleeding during pregnancy

If a heart attack or stroke is suspected, you should call 911 because paramedics can use life-saving equipment in the ambulance on the way to the ER.

When to Visit an Urgent Care Clinic

A rule of thumb is to seek medical treatment at an urgent care clinic if you’d be comfortable consulting your family doctor about your concerns if you could get an appointment. There are far too many common health conditions that fall under this umbrella to list them all, but here are some that are appropriate for urgent care treatment:

  • Moderate flu-like symptoms
  • Sore throats
  • Fever without a rash
  • Fever that doesn’t subside after a few days
  • Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
  • Wheezing or shortness of breath
  • Sprains, strains, and minor fractures
  • Ear and eye infections
  • Skin rashes
  • Insect and tick bites

Some walk-in clinics, including Springfield Urgent Care, are equipped to offer same-day lab testing and digital X-ray services that can play a huge role in providing patients with accurate diagnoses and effective treatment plans. When an urgent care center delivers these services in house, patients receive the optimal level of convenience—one that many traditional doctor’s offices don’t offer.

If you’re experiencing a non-life-threatening illness or injury in the southeastern Michigan area, Springfield Urgent Care may be the perfect place to turn for medical treatment without an appointment. We treat patients of all ages, from infants to seniors, and we’re open during extended hours at all five of our urgent care locations:

  • Clarkston
  • Highland
  • Hamburg
  • White Lake
  • Saline

We also accept many health insurance plans. Contact us today for more information.

How to Properly Wash Your Hands

Lathered hands clasped together over dark wash basin with a trickle of water coming from aboveThere are few good things to be said for the COVID-19 pandemic, but the effort to slow the spread of this serious and highly contagious illness has put the spotlight on simple disease prevention measures like handwashing. Frequent handwashing—especially if you know how to properly wash your hands—is a great way to prevent the spread of many respiratory and digestive tract infections. In fact, many health experts have theorized that the flu has been far less widespread during the COVID-19 pandemic because of viral infection prevention methods that included social distancing, mask wearing, and – yes – handwashing.

Even before the pandemic, most of us were probably taught to wash our hands before meals and after going to the bathroom. This is because touching a contaminated surface and then putting our hands to our mouth, nose, or eyes is one of the most common ways to spread germs. However, if you’re like most people, you probably never really got a tutorial in how to wash your hands properly. After all, how hard can it be? You just stick your hands under running water, dab them with soap, and then rinse, right? Wrong! Failure to wash your hands thoroughly can leave you and those you come in contact with vulnerable to germs that inadequate hygiene habits failed to dislodge.

Springfield Urgent Care is pleased to provide you with the following handwashing tips, based on recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

5 Steps to Truly Clean Hands

  1. The first step in proper handwashing is to use clean, running water from the faucet. Standing water in a basin could be contaminated by previous use. Although it’s generally better to wash your hands in standing water than to forgo handwashing, it’s best to use fresh water from the tap.
  2. After wetting your hands with clean water, add enough soap to work up a good lather and scrub all areas of your hands, including fingertips and nails, the skin between the fingers, and the backs of your hands. Remember that the infectious microbes you can’t see are likely to be present on all surfaces of your hands, so you’ll want to be thorough in scrubbing them away.
  3. Next, hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice while scrubbing your hands. Experts recommend doing this because it will take about 20 seconds—which is the minimum length of time it takes to do a good job of handwashing.
  4. When you feel certain you’ve thoroughly cleansed all parts of your hands, rinse them with clean, running water.
  5. Use a clean towel or air dryer to dry your hands, as germs can more easily transfer to and from wet hands than dry ones.

Additional Ways to Prevent the Spread of Infectious Diseases

Handwashing is one of the simplest ways to slow the spread of viruses and bacterial infections. For prevention of respiratory illnesses, wearing a mask that covers your nose and mouth when you’re around other people is another effective measure. It may also help you avoid touching those areas of your face, which can reduce the chance that you’ll ingest bacteria from your hands. And, as public health experts have recommended throughout the coronavirus pandemic, staying at least 6 feet away from others will help reduce the chances that you’ll inhale contaminated droplets that become airborne when people sneeze, cough, or even talk to one another.

At Springfield Urgent Care, we not only treat a wide array of non-life-threatening illnesses and injuries, but we also take pride in helping our patients stay healthy. Our walk-in clinics in Clarkston and Highland, Michigan, are open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day of the week, including weekends, and we offer flu shots, COVID-19 vaccines, and physical exams. We also offer lab testing that can help identify various infections so our patients can take the appropriate steps to avoid infecting others. For example, we offer on-site testing for:

  • Influenza
  • COVID-19
  • Strep throat
  • Mononucleosis
  • Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)

If you’d like more information about the many nonemergency medical services available from Springfield Urgent Care, contact us today.


What to Keep in a First Aid Kit

Young man pulling first aid kit out of a backpack while young woman holds knee and has pained expression on her face - both appear to be hiking in the woodsHave you ever been at work and experienced a paper cut that refused to stop bleeding or fallen down some stairs and scraped your knee? If your employer had a first aid kit that contained bandages, antibiotic ointment, and maybe even some over-the-counter pain reliever, you were probably grateful. Or perhaps you went hiking and picked up a splinter when you grabbed a handrail on a rustic log bridge that carried you over a picturesque stream. If you had a well-stocked first aid kit in your backpack, you were probably able to use tweezers to dislodge the splinter, then apply an antiseptic solution to chase any germs away. Voilà! You could continue communing with nature, worry free.

Many of life’s minor bumps and bruises can be remedied with little fuss by keeping an amply supplied first aid kit on hand. Moreover, having a first aid kit at the ready can sometimes mean more than speedy comfort and pain relief—it can save a life. Consider that administering aspirin from a first aid kit at the first sign of a heart attack can mean the difference between life and death.

At Springfield Urgent Care, our certified medical practitioners stand ready to help Michigan residents in Clarkston, Highland, Hamburg, White Lake, and surrounding communities receive fast and convenient treatment for many types of non-life-threatening illnesses and injuries. However, we recognize that minor health conditions can often be treated at home or on the road with the items from a well-stocked first aid kit. In some cases, first aid can help stabilize a patient’s condition and alleviate his or her discomfort until professional medical treatment at an urgent care clinic or emergency room is available. Therefore, we’re pleased to offer the following tips for what to keep in your first aid kit so you’re well-prepared.

Tailoring Your First Aid Kit to Meet Your Needs

There are many pre-stocked first aid kits available for sale, and you’ll find a wide variety of options on the market, ranging from small kits geared toward the needs of backpackers to elaborately outfitted bags or boxes that contain hundreds of items. Whether you decide to buy one or build your own from scratch, you’ll want to make sure the following items are included:

  • Hand sanitizer
  • Band-aids in assorted sizes
  • Gauze, adhesive tape, and elastic bandages
  • Scissors and safety pins
  • Rubbing alcohol and/or hydrogen peroxide
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Chewable aspirin
  • Acetaminophen or ibuprofen
  • A needle and thread
  • Splinting materials
  • Tweezers
  • Tourniquet material
  • Eyewash solution
  • Calamine lotion
  • Instant cold packs
  • Disposable gloves
  • Thermometer
  • Plastic bags
  • Aloe vera gel for sunburn
  • First aid instruction booklet

However, those are just the basics that experts recommend for your first aid kit. You’ll want to think about your activities and other items you or family might need. For instance, if you like to spend time outdoors, you may wish to pack anesthetic swabs for pain and itch relief in the event of a bee or wasp sting. If someone in your home is prone to common allergies, you’ll want to include antihistamines or another type of allergy medication in your first aid kit. And, certainly, if someone in your household has been prescribed epinephrine for use in the event of a life-threatening allergic reaction, you’ll want to include the prescribed auto-injector in your first aid kit.

It’s a good idea to have at least two first aid kits on hand—one inside your home and one in your car, in case you experience an illness or injury while traveling. And, to be truly well-prepared, you should pack your travel first aid kit with emergency contact information, the Poison Control Center helpline number (800-222-1222), a small flashlight, and batteries.

For information about the many nonemergency health care services available to residents of and visitors to Clarkston, Highland, Hamburg, and White Lake, contact Springfield Urgent Care today.

How to Handle an Asthma Attack

Mom with worried facial expression holds inhaler out to grade-school-age girl clutching her chest, both sitting on a sofaBreathing is essential to survival, and it’s pretty much automatic—most of us rarely ever think about the air that we inhale and exhale thousands of times a day. So when you suddenly start wheezing, coughing, sweating, feeling tightness in your chest, and struggling to breathe, the signs of distress can be frightening, both to you and others around you. These are classic symptoms of an asthma attack, which is caused by a tightening of the muscles around your airways, known to medical professionals as a bronchospasm. People who have been diagnosed with asthma often carry a rescue inhaler, also called a bronchodilator, which is a device that allows them to breathe in medication that will expand their airways during an asthma attack.

But how do you handle an asthma attack if you’re caught without a rescue inhaler or the medication isn’t working?

Step One: Stay Calm

An asthma attack often induces feeling of panic that may make your symptoms worse. The best course of action is to sit up straight, relax your upper body, and slow your breathing. These actions can help open your airways.

If you’re in the vicinity of known asthma triggers—such as pollen, chemical fumes, or cigarette smoke—it’s a good idea to slowly move away from the source. However, you’ll want to avoid any strenuous physical activity during an asthma attack.

Step Two: Administer Asthma First Aid

If you’re with someone who’s having an asthma attack and has an inhaler but can’t manage to use it, help them by:

  • Removing the inhaler cap and shaking the device well, then inserting the spacer if the inhaler has one
  • Having the distressed person breathe out completely before putting their mouth tightly around the mouthpiece
  • Pressing the inhaler once to deliver a single puff
  • Encouraging the person to breathe slowly through the mouth, then hold their breath for 10 seconds
  • Repeating the above action three times, about a minute apart

Step Three: Seek Medical Treatment

If you’re experiencing an asthma attack, you should seek medical treatment right away, even if your symptoms subside. If the attack was mild and lasted only a few minutes, you should consult with your primary care doctor or visit an urgent care clinic.

A severe asthma attack can be life-threatening, however. You should call 911 if you’re:

  • Experiencing severe wheezing or shortness of breath that doesn’t let up after a few minutes
  • Unable to speak except for a word or two
  • Straining your chest muscles while trying to breathe
  • Starting to feel drowsy
  • Displaying signs of cyanosis (reduced oxygen in the blood), like a blue face or lips

There are a variety of emergency treatments that can help reduce lung inflammation and get asthma symptoms under control. These include oral corticosteroids, use of a bronchodilator with the appropriate medication, and mechanical ventilation.

Tips to Help Prevent an Asthma Attack

The symptoms of asthma are similar to those of other health conditions, such as respiratory infection and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Therefore, if you’ve been experiencing chest tightness, wheezing, and shortness of breath while exercising or coming in contact with common allergens like pollen, dust, and pet dander, it’s a good idea to get a medical diagnosis. This will likely involve testing to measure your lung function, and your doctor may recommend other diagnostic tests, including those designed to identify allergies.

Once you’ve been diagnosed with asthma, your medical practitioner will provide you with a treatment plan. It’s important that you follow that plan to the letter. If you’ve been prescribed use of a rescue inhaler, make sure you take it with you wherever you go, even if you’ve never had an asthma attack. If your treatment plan included identification of triggers, make sure you clear those substances from your home and try to avoid them when you’re out and about. In fact, it’s a good idea to steer clear of common allergens and cigarette smoke. Additionally, you’ll want to take extra precautions to avoid catching a cold or the flu because viral infections can make your asthma symptoms worse.

If you’re in the Clarkston, Michigan, area and you need nonemergency medical treatment for a mild asthma attack, you can get competent and compassionate care at Springfield Urgent Care without an appointment. We’re open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day of the week, including weekends, and we treat patients of all ages.

Contact Springfield Urgent Care today for more information about our asthma treatment and the many other nonemergency health services we offer.