Whether you’re looking to save money on medical care or are looking for a temporary stand-in for your primary care doctor, urgent care clinics offer a valuable service. 

At Poipu Mobile MD, we know that finding effective, compassionate medical care begins with making informed, proactive decisions regarding your health needs. In this blog, we talk about what urgent care clinics are, the type of conditions doctors consider “urgent,” and what your options might be.

If you’re a Kauai resident interested in learning more about the services we offer at Poipu Mobile MD, keep browsing our website or reach out to us by phone today.

What Is Urgent Care?

Urgent care treatment centers are generally walk-in or ambulatory medical clinics offering care for various typically non-life-threatening injuries and conditions. These facilities usually provide a combination of walk-in and scheduled appointments, with many new urgent care centers offering hybrid virtual visits and other telehealth solutions. 

In general, urgent care facilities are more cost-effective than emergency rooms for treating minor yet acute conditions. However, some urgent care facilities may lack the equipment or staffing for special diagnostic tests. In these cases, an urgent care medical professional may refer a patient to a larger medical facility or hospital to complete any necessary tests.

What Is Considered an Urgent Medical Condition?

Many people seeking medical care often assume that “urgent” and “emergency” have the same meaning. While it’s true that all emergency medical situations require urgent treatment, not all urgent medical conditions require emergency treatment.  

A medical emergency is a life-threatening situation, such as a heart attack, critical injury, and other conditions. Urgent medical conditions are generally those conditions that are non-life-threatening but would benefit from prompt and effective treatment. Urgent medical conditions include sinus infections, sprained ankles, and so on.

Since the treatment of this class of injury or condition has only recently become a dedicated practice, we know it can seem challenging to choose the right medical services. Keep reading below to learn some factors you should consider during your decision-making process.

For direct answers to your questions regarding which type of facility you should choose for your care or the care of your loved one, feel free to reach out to our staff by telephone or email today.

Choosing Between Urgent Care Clinics and the Emergency Room

If you’re considering seeking medical care from an urgent care treatment clinic or emergency room, keep the below factors in mind while deciding.

The Severity of Injury or Illness

Many accidents and other situations result in life-threatening injuries. If you suspect that you or your loved one is facing a life-threatening injury or condition, such as head trauma or heart attack, check into the nearest emergency room as soon as possible or call emergency transport services.

Symptom Frequency

Chronic conditions often produce frequent symptoms that require treatment to alleviate. Headaches, colds, sinus infections, bronchitis, and UTI symptoms often occur alongside chronic illnesses. These symptoms are easily treated at an urgent care clinic as an alternative to primary care facilities with restrictive hours and emergency rooms, which cost more.


Emergency departments generally must prioritize life-threatening injuries and conditions. As a result, wait times in emergency rooms for non-life-threatening issues may be extended. 

Urgent care clinics specialize in the prompt treatment of non-emergency medical needs. If you’re unsure whether your symptoms could become life-threatening, speak to the triage nurse at an urgent care clinic near you.

Dangerous Symptoms

Some symptoms should always be treated as severe. Get to the nearest emergency medical facility as soon as possible if you or a loved one experiences:

  •       Sudden numbness or tingling in your arms, legs, or face
  •       Difficulting speaking or moving your face
  •       Sudden loss of coordination
  •       Confusion
  •       Vision problems
  •       Chest pain
  •       Shortness of breath

Wait Times

If you need prompt medical care for a time-sensitive situation, urgent care clinics provide an excellent alternative to emergency rooms and busy doctor’s offices. Successful primary care facilities may take weeks to get an appointment, and emergency rooms often have wait times of 4 hours or more for non-life-threatening care.


Finally, if you’re considering an emergency room for prompt treatment of a non-life-threatening injury or condition, it’s wise to consider potential bills before choosing. Emergency rooms generate higher bills than urgent care facilities, even for patients with insurance.

Conditions Treated at Urgent Care Clinics

If you’re still struggling to decide which treatment center is right for you, it may help to look at common illnesses and injuries treated at urgent care clinics. Below are some of the most common urgent care diagnosis and treatment services.

Severe Cold and Flu

The cold and the flu are among the most common conditions for urgent care treatment centers to treat. Doctors can help alleviate symptoms in severe cases that do not respond to over-the-counter medications and treatments.

Sore Throats

Sore throats are a common symptom of cold and flu cases but also appear with seasonal allergies, post-nasal drip, accidental irritation, and illnesses such as thrust or strep throat. Urgent care centers have the diagnostic tools and capability to test for and treat these conditions.

Abdominal Pain

Abdominal pain is a symptom of many chronic diseases and common periodic illnesses, such as stomach flu, indigestion, and mild food poisoning. Urgent care doctors quickly and effectively alleviate abdominal pain and refer patients to further medical care if needed.

Infections of Ear, Eye, and Throat

For infants and children, ear, throat, and eye infections are relatively common illnesses. Parents can take their children to urgent care rather than deal with prolonged wait times for pediatrician offices or expensive bills from emergency rooms.

Common Injuries Treated at Urgent Care

An injury drives patients to seek treatment at an emergency care facility or hospital in many cases. However, when these injuries are not life-threatening, many patients can find faster, more affordable treatment at nearby urgent care facilities.

If you’re injured and unsure whether or not your injury is life-threatening or requires emergency treatment, call your local urgent care clinic and speak with a triage nurse as soon as possible. If no nurse is available, don’t wait. Seek treatment for your injury as quickly as possible.

Work or Occupational Injuries

Many workplaces present hazards that sometimes result in worker injury. Doctors at urgent care facilities can treat injuries like burns, sprains, and fractures for a reduced cost.

Like many emergency rooms, most urgent care facilities can work with filing worker’s compensation and complying with the requirements for those programs.

Sprains, Strains, and Pulled Muscles

Life requires us to move, and sometimes movement results in sprained joints and strained or pulled muscles. These injuries are rarely life-threatening but can be debilitating and painful. Rather than wait for an in-office visit, many patients with this type of injury benefit from the fast, affordable treatment available at urgent care facilities.

Bone Fractures and Joint Dislocations

Bone fractures and joint dislocations are serious injuries that require prompt medical treatment. While emergency rooms are still an excellent second choice, many urgent care facilities can diagnose and set broken bones for a fraction of the cost. This way, urgent care facilities save patients time, pain, and money in their medical treatment.


Burns are a common injury people incur in the workplace and at home. Urgent care facilities have the staff and equipment to treat most burns successfully and can refer burn patients to specialists for further care if necessary.

For severe burns or burns that cover a significant portion of any limb or body part, contain emergency services immediately.

Cuts, Lacerations, and Other Wounds

Like burns, lacerations and cuts are common injuries received in workplaces and regular activities. When these injuries are non-life-threatening, urgent care facilities offer an affordable, timely treatment option. 

Whether from an urgent care facility or emergency department, seek immediate medical assistance for:

  •       Deep cuts that bleed profusely
  •       Bruises or lacerations that result in numbness, tingling, loss of movement, or difficulty breathing
  •       Cuts or abrasions that seem infected, irritated, or numb
  •       Bruises on the head

 If you’re unsure about the severity of your injury or illness, we encourage you to reach out to our team or emergency medical professionals as soon as possible.

Find The Care You Need

If you’re considering urgent care treatment in Poipu and surrounding areas in Kauai, our team at Poipu Mobile MD is here for you.

The path to feeling better begins when you reach out. Book an appointment today!