Emergency Room Vs. Urgent Care: What’s the Difference?

Do you know that 52 percent of patients visit emergency rooms for totally avoidable conditions? Therefore, they get into medical debt, which is the number one cause of bankruptcy in America.

Many people often get confused when Emergency Rooms vs. Urgent Care discussion arises. Well, there is a little difference between these medical units. However, you should know where to rush to in case of any medical emergency.

So, what’s the difference between a trip to the emergency room or a visit to urgent care? Here is what you should know about these important medical centers.

Emergency Room Vs. Urgent Care

You need to know where to rush when having a severe medical problem. However, do you know that you could save time and money if you go to the correct facility?

If you’re suffering from a life-threatening condition, visit an emergency room. For less severe conditions, visiting an urgent care center is the best option. Urgent care centers provide similar services to emergency rooms but at a low cost.

Different levels of medical care exist. For example, level 1 is for those with minor problems like headache, earache, and stomachache. Emergency rooms are for patients who surpass level 5.

In short, the higher the level, the greater the condition. Patients in level 5 suffer from severe problems like broken bones. They, therefore, need urgent medical condition before their condition worsens.

Patients without insurance often use emergency rooms as their sole health provider. Most federal governments, however, prefer that the patients should use urgent care services instead.

More than $18 billion is lost annually in the US by patients who don’t take advantage of urgent care. Instead, they go to ERs to treat ‘non-urgent’ conditions. They end up being charged more than if they’d utilize other primary health care services.

You don’t need an appointment to get urgent care services. Most of them are open all through the week. In the US, there are more than 9,300 urgent care centers to serve citizens.

Research shows that urgent cares are the most underutilized medical institutions. This is because many patients prefer to go for emergency room services. As such, they waste resources, and sometimes, life is lost.

Moreover, unlike emergency rooms, urgent care facilities don’t keep medical histories. So, if you’re visiting UCs ensure that you’ve carried crucial medical documentation. It enables the doctors to prescribe medicine based on your previous medical history.

Another difference between ERs and UCs is that urgent care centers don’t have sophisticated medical equipment. On the other hand, ERs are equipped with crucial medical equipment used to manage severe medical conditions. So, you won’t find x-rays and lab-testing facilities in UCs.

Nearly all medical procedures in a UC are serviced by insurance. The average cost of treating a patient in an urgent care center is $150. For ERs, you don’t need an insurance cover to get medical services.

Why Patients Choose Medical Centers out of Convenience

This decision solely lies on the severity of your condition and cost. However, most patients make the final decision based on convenience.

So why do many people prefer ERs over UCs? Well, everyone wants to access medical services 24/7. Also, there are many ERs as compared to UCs.

In addition, many patients are not happy that they can’t get all the services in urgent care centers. So, they’d instead go to an emergency room to get all the necessary services.

Ninety-two percent of patients visit emergency rooms for severe conditions. The rest should visit other medical centers. But they still prefer ERs anyway.

Over recent years, UCs have improved service delivery. More people are embracing UC visitations. However, this number is still below average.

Choosing an Emergency Room

You should only go to an ER when you’re suffering from life-threatening conditions. Otherwise, you should visit a UC center.

However, some ailments and symptoms put patients in a dilemma. If it requires maximum medical attention, visit an ER.

Here are the common signs and symptoms that you should go to an emergency room urgently.

  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Food poisoning
  • Paralysis
  • Abnormal fever especially on children
  • Short breath
  • Unusual chest pain
  • Internal bleeding
  • Severe headache
  • Non-stop bleeding
  • Serious allergic conditions
  • Non-stop vomiting
  • Drowsiness
  • Stroke

Choosing an Urgent Care Center

The MedNow Urgent Care rule of thumb dictates that if your ailment isn’t life-threatening, you should visit an urgent care center. However, sometimes, you need to consult with a physician to know where to go. This is crucial to avoid underestimating the severity of your condition.

Here are the common conditions that often require visiting UCs.

  • Minor headaches
  • Minor abdominal pain
  • Seasonal allergies
  • Small cuts that only need stitches
  • Infections in the urinary tract
  • Twisted arm
  • Simple coughs
  • Insect Bites
  • Non-severe diarrhea

However, call the relevant authority if your patient transcends to a life-threatening situation from these symptoms and conditions. You’ll save a life!

Save Time and Revenue

There’s a considerable cost difference between an emergency room and an urgent care center. This should be enough to encourage patients to visit UCs.

You’ll only part away with between $50-$150 for urgent call care services. Besides, the services offered at urgent care centers are highly rated. Thus, you can get the same services at an affordable cost when you visit urgent care centers.

On the other hand, you’ll spend an average cost of $1,233 to get emergency room services. As such, you can save ten times more by avoiding unnecessary emergency room visit.

Also, you’ll save more time by visiting an urgent care center. Most emergency rooms are ordinarily congested. Thus, you’ll have to wait a little longer to get their services.

Stay Safe and Away from Unnecessary Debts

Avoid getting into medical debts by considering a financially wise route. If you’re suffering from less severe conditions, see a physician at your nearest urgent care center. Ensure to tag along a close friend or family member to be safe should your condition worsen.

Emergency Room vs. Urgent Care is a sensitive discussion that seeks to enlighten readers. You should always consider a cost-friendly route while seeking for medical services. Check out our blog for more informative tips.