Urgent Care vs. Emergency Room

Urgent Care vs. Emergency Room: Illness and injury can be scary, especially when things happen in the evening or over the weekend, when a primary healthcare provider isn’t readily available.  So, how do you decide where to go when sick or injured? The Urgent Care Association of America (UCAOA), has some great information on what constitutes an emergency… when an ER visit is appropriate and when a trip to an urgent care facility will be best.

First – lets talk about what types of urgent care facilities are available:

Urgent Care vs. Emergency Room

Most people are aware of the fact that hospitals have emergency rooms.  We have also become aware of new Freestanding Emergency Rooms not attached to hospitals.  Not all are aware of the many options that are available, for non-life threatening situations.  Here is a breakdown of some alternatives.

Urgent Care Clinics such as Innovative Urgent Care Clinic

These facilities can treat a number of types of illnesses and injuries that are serious, but not immediately life threatening. Their staff are usually qualified to set bones, stitch wounds, treat severe flu symptoms, and other illnesses such as bronchitis and strep throat or asthma attacks.  One can receive IV fluids, and get test results whilewaiting, as most have onsite labs for diagnostics.  X-ray equipment is also readily available.

Walk-In Clinics such as Innovative Urgent Care Clinic

For more minor illnesses, sprains and strains…sometimes even wellness checkups and routine vaccinations, a retail/walk-in clinic might be just what the doctor ordered.

Telemedicine is growing in popularity and is offered by Innovative Urgent Care Clinic

This is great for the faced paced life that has become common place.  Doctors and nurses can consult with patients over the phone / internet, to diagnose non-threatening illnesses and call in prescriptions to local pharmacies. This is also a great option for those who live in remote areas or those with busy lifestyles.

So what are the 2 biggest reasons to go to Urgent Care instead of the ER, if one does not have a life or limb threatening illness or injury?

  1. EXPENSE – Urgent Care bills will be a fraction of the cost of an ER visit.
  2. TIME – Usually the wait time at an urgent care/ on demand facility will be much much less.

It is conservatively estimated that between 13 and 27 percent of emergency room visits, could have easily been treated at an alternative facility. Yearly the savings for these visits could be upwards of$4.4 billion.

Wrap up of what you need to know about Urgent Care vs. Emergency Room Visits

Emergency Rooms are for true life threatening situations. If you are at all in doubt, then head to the ER…but before you get sick or injured the Urgent Care Association of America has these tips for you. 

Remember the Three C’s –  Care / Convenience / Cost

Care: Evaluate the severity of your symptoms and identify what services you may need. Life- or limb-threatening issues should always send you to the ER. Anything else can likely be treated elsewhere.

Convenience: Know what healthcare facilities are available nearby, as well as their hours of operation, to determine the best option.

Cost: Understand which providers are covered by your insurance, or if there are any requirements such as pre-authorization.

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