Emergency Rooms vs Urgent Care Centers People everyday deal with sudden illnesses and emergencies, and it always seems these unfortunate situations happen when your physician’s office is closed. If your emergency is bad enough, most people will go to their local emergency department, but that may not always be the best choice. This is where it would benefit people to know the many differences between emergency rooms and urgent care centers. Emergency rooms and urgent care centers differ in many ways, some of which include the severity of illnesses they can handle, wait time, and cost of care.
In order to receive the best healthcare available to you, it’s important to know which facility can best assist you. Urgent care centers are equipped to treat patients for cuts, sprains, broken bones, headaches, cold and flu symptoms, mild to moderate abdominal pain and ear aches just to name a few. In the situation that your emergency may be more severe than you thought, the center will have you transported to your local emergency room. Most emergency rooms are equipped to handle true emergencies which include car accidents, falls, chest pains, strokes, assaults, head injuries, pregnancy complications, and severe abdominal pain.
Small town hospitals are not always equipped to assist you with severe traumas, at which point the patient is flown out to an appropriate medical facility. Knowing what your local healthcare centers are equipped to handle before an accident or illness occurs is the first step in saving valuable time and sometimes lifesaving minutes We’ve all heard horror stories of the outrageous wait times in emergency rooms. According to a recent study done by Press & Ganey in 2007, the average time a patient spends in the ED is 4 hours, compared to 3. 7 hours in 2006.
What many patients don’t realize is they are seen in order of priority, which includes walk-ins. So for example, if you have a sprained ankle, you are considered a low risk, putting you at the end of the line. Anyone with abdominal pain, chest pain, numbness, or any symptom requiring immediate attention will be put towards the front of the line, even if they just walked in. Urgent care centers wait times are not nearly the length of an emergency room, as they do not see patients with life threatening emergencies so they are able to recycle their rooms much quicker, meaning a much less wait time for you.
According to an article by the Times Herald Record, during an interview of a local Urgent care center, the owner states. “The average time spent in our facilities, from the moment you walk in until you walk out, is 30 minutes,” (Scruggs, 2010). That estimate gives a better idea at how quickly a trip to the urgent care center can be. When an illness or injury occurs, knowing the right facility that can treat you will help save precious time and get you feeling better, faster.
Often times when we face sudden illness or injuries, we don’t consider what the price of our medical care will be; we just want to be made comfortable. With the rising cost of healthcare, it’s important to know what many facilities don’t take the time to explain. A trip to the emergency room costs a minimum of $250, without insurance, and that is just for the use of the room. After that, you pay for the cost of the physician, labs, and medicines administered, leaving the average final cost between $750 and $1500 for a minor issue, not including x-rays.
Emergency rooms are able to charge a larger amount of money for these services because of the convenience and accessibility of the diagnostic tools, not to mention the quality and quantity of staff. An urgent care center is much less expensive, simply because they do not have the wide array of diagnostic tools nor the amount of employed staff. For many urgent care centers, this can be as much as one-sixth the cost of an emergency room visit (Scruggs, 2010). An injury is the same regardless of which facility you go to, but making the right choice for your emergency can save you hundreds, and in many cases, even thousands of dollars.
Everyday, we hear of the growing frustrations with emergency wait times and costs, and this problem only seems to get worse every year. Educating people on the use of urgent care centers is one of the most important steps we can take in avoiding, and possibly even eliminating, these frustrating situations while receiving the proper care we all deserve. References Press Ganey Associates, In, 2010,. The Emergency Department Pulse Report: Patient Perspectives on American Health Care. http://www. pressganey. com/galleries/default-file/er-report. pdf Scruggs, S, 2010, Times Herald Record,