Acute care is the branch of healthcare that treats short-term but severe medical needs. Whereas chronic care can often be made available in assisted living or at-home settings, acute care is only provided in hospitals and emergency departments, because it requires specially trained clinical personnel, technical equipment, and thorough sanitization.
Each type of acute care provides specific services to the patient, depending on their need.
Who provides acute care?
Different healthcare professionals are needed to provide acute care services depending on where someone is receiving care, and the type of care needed. The emergency department, for example, includes ambulance paramedics, ER doctors, nurses, technicians and trauma surgeons. Experts of more specialized fields such as orthopedics can be brought in if required.
Urgent care centers, on the other hand, are often walk-in centers staffed by at least one physician, plus physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and other nurses. Frequently, more specialized physicians also work directly in urgent care departments — such as sports medicine and internal medicine physicians.
How do I know what kind of acute care I need?
Deciding what type of acute care you need in a painful and frightening situation can be extremely difficult. In general, your decision will most likely be between four options:
- Your Personal Healthcare Provider
- If your injury or illness does not require immediate attention, you can call your healthcare provider and schedule treatment with them.
- Urgent Care
- If you require immediate care but the injury or illness is not life-threatening and does not carry the risk of permanent disability, an urgent care facility should be able to accommodate your needs.
- Emergency Care
- If you (or your unborn child if you are pregnant) could die or become permanently disabled by your illness or injury, immediate emergency care is needed.
- Intensive Care
- Intensive care units (ICUs) are specialized hospital wards that provide treatment and monitoring for people who are extremely ill. While there are many conditions that could require ICU care, in general most patients in an ICU are having problems with at least one of their vital organs or systems — possibly more.
Why is acute care important to your community?
One 2018 study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, reported that acute care facility visits to non-emergency facilities (like urgent care centers) increased by 140% from 2008 to 2015. But ER visits for non-emergency conditions decreased by 36%. While this means more patients may be going to urgent care (instead of the ER) when they need acute care, this may not be the case for more rural locations. A 2019 report concluded that “Rural EDs experienced greater growth in ED use simultaneous with increased pressure as safety-net hospitals.”
This is potentially because, according to the CDC’s examination of rural health in 2017, people living in rural areas are at a greater risk for life-threatening effects of heart disease, cancer, stroke, chronic lower respiratory disease, and unintentional injury. (Deaths by unintentional injury in rural areas are 50% more common than in urban areas.)
Because rural areas are more at risk for injury and illness, acute care facilities of every type may be even more essential to residents.
At LifeBrite we are dedicated to providing our community with quality acute care, and getting you the services you need regardless of your circumstances. To learn more about our services and facilities, visit our website or call (336) 593-2831.
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