While emergency rooms are vital when you have a life-threatening condition, the fact of the matter is that many medical issues can and should be treated at urgent care facilities instead. In fact, research presented by the US National Library of Medicine has shown that up to 27.1% of ER visits could be safely treated in alternative healthcare clinics, saving people time, money, and a whole lot of stress. Here are three reasons to visit an urgent care center instead of the ER.
- Urgent Care Centers Treat Hundreds of Conditions
All too often, people treat urgent care clinics like after-hours doctors’ offices. While urgent care centers do treat issues like fevers, nausea, and colds, they are also fitted with equipment to handle more urgent conditions, such as infections, sprains, and even urinary tract infections.
In fact, urgent care centers can help patients with hundreds of different conditions, ranging from simple illnesses to sudden injuries. Like the emergency room, when a patient arrives at an urgent care center, they are typically moved into a triage room where the nature of their injuries is evaluated. Vitals like blood pressure, heart rate, and temperature are checked, and then this information is relayed to doctors who determine which patients should be seen first.
During your visit with the doctor, your condition will be treated, and medical providers may collect lab work or prescribe medication to help with your symptoms. Most facilities even have x-ray equipment, making it easy to check for problems like lung congestion, broken bones, or swallowed objects.
If you or someone you love is injured or becomes ill, think carefully about the nature of their symptoms. While emergency rooms are the right choice for anyone with head injuries, breathing problems, severe bleeding, or issues with consciousness, many issues can be treated at urgent care. If you arrive at urgent care and your condition should be seen at the ER, you may be transferred to a hospital upon arrival.
- You Will Receive Faster Care
In addition to being able to seek help for a long list of conditions at urgent care, chances are that you will be seen by a doctor much, much faster. Because so many patients go to the emergency room when they could be seen by their normal doctor, wait times can get out of control quickly, driving up the amount of time you spend waiting for help.
In fact, most people who visit emergency rooms end up waiting multiple hours for treatment, while most people who visit urgent care clinics are treated in under an hour. If you have a busy schedule, impatient kids, or an uncomfortable condition that simply can’t wait, urgent care is your best bet for a fast visit.
Although patients spend less time at urgent care clinics, the doctors providing care actually have more time with each individual patient. Because medical providers at urgent care clinics aren’t spread as thin, they have time to sit down with you, discuss your symptoms, and provide kinder, more thorough care.
On the flip side, emergency room doctors are focused on checking for life-threatening conditions, getting you stable, and sending you on your way.
- Urgent Cares Are Less Expensive
Emergency rooms are carefully designed and stocked to handle any number of incoming problems, ranging from heart attaches to near drownings. Unfortunately, the large amount of inventory required of most ER locations and need to be available 24 / 7 drives up the cost of treatment. Instead of being able to just keep the essentials on hand, emergency rooms have to be ready for anything, which makes the entire experience more expensive for anyone who visits.
To keep patients safe, emergency rooms also have to staff a number of different specialists. In addition to keeping regular ER doctors on hand, hospitals also have to have neurologists, surgeons, anesthesiologists, and human resources professionals on hand 24/7. While these experts make it easy to get excellent medical care at a moment’s notice, this is also one of the reasons emergency room visits are much more expensive than a trip to urgent care.
While most urgent care clinics offer basic services that range in out-of-pocket cost from $50 to $150, depending on the patient’s co-pay and level of treatment, the average price of a single visit to the ER in 2016 was $1,917, and this price continues to increase every year. In fact, studies have shown that ER prices outpace coverage from medical insurance providers, creating difficulty for patients who cannot afford these high costs.
On the other hand, because of the low cost of urgent care centers, patients can visit their medical providers again for follow-up treatment, without worrying about how it will impact their pocketbook.
When you need excellent medical care quickly, stop by one of our convenient Stellis Health locations. With more than 60 doctors and specialists, our team can help you tackle your health problems quickly and efficiently. To learn more about our committed approach to healthcare, visit us today.