Thank goodness that emergency rooms exist for life threatening circumstances. However, for non-life threatening situation, emergency rooms can be unpleasant experiences. The waiting rooms are incredibly uncomfortable. The time it takes to be seen in an emergency room is notoriously long. You’re stuck in close quarters with all the other patients waiting to be seen, many of whom have contagious illnesses that you definitely don’t want to be exposed to. And the icing on the cake is the high medical bills and copays you’ll be subject to for your ER visit.
Thankfully, the growing availability of urgent care centers has given patients a great alternative to the emergency room when their medical issue is not life threatening but should be treated before their regular doctor’s office can see them. Here are six reasons to always choose urgent care over the emergency room, unless your circumstance is life threatening:
- You’ll get the care you need faster. If you have a serious injury, such as a broken ankle, you are probably in a lot of pain and want to be treated as quickly as possible. You can be treated in the emergency room, but your treatment will take a backseat to the patient experiencing symptoms of a heart attack, and the patient who is bleeding profusely. On the other hand, most urgent care facilities are equipped to handle x-ray and fracture care, and on average, the wait time at an urgent care clinic is less than 15 minutes.
- Your urgent care visit saves lives. This is not an exaggeration. If we all utilized urgent care clinics instead of emergency rooms for non-life threatening injuries, the medical staff who work in emergency rooms and the ER resources will be available to administer life-saving care to patients who have medical issues that jeopardize their lives.
- You’ll probably spend less at an urgent care than an ER. According to the National Institute of Health, the average emergency room bill is a whopping $1,233. Meanwhile, the average urgent care bill is $155. On top of that, many insurance companies won’t pay those high ER bills if your medical issue was not an emergency, so you could be stuck paying it out of pocket. Even if your health insurance does cover your ER visit, your copay is likely a lot steeper for an ER visit than a regular doctor’s visit. Many insurance companies treat urgent care visits as regular doctor’s appointments.
- You can probably get the treatment you need at an urgent care, even if your doctor does not provide it. Sometimes, you find yourself going to the emergency room because the care you need is not available at your doctor’s office. You need x-rays. You need immediate lab work. You need IV fluids. You need a breathing treatment for a non-serious breathing issue. While most of these services are not available at a regular physician’s office, most urgent care facilities do provide them.
- Urgent care can scale the care you receive to meet your needs. You have a urinary tract infection and need antibiotics immediately. This type of care doesn’t require a doctor, you are familiar with UTI symptoms and know when you have one. Urgent care facilities staff a range of medical professionals from nurses, nurse practitioners, to doctors. If your treatment can be provided by a nurse practitioner, you can be in an out without having to wait for the doctor to take a look at you and tell you what you already know.
- Your records are available at other network clinics. Say you visit your local Memorial Urgent Care for a specific reason. If you have to be seen again for the same issue, you can visit a different Memorial Urgent Care and see a different doctor, who will have access to all of your records. There might be five or six Memorial Urgent Cares in your area and all of the Memorial Urgent care facilities would be up to speed on your condition and your treatment plan, while you’d have to go back to the exact same emergency room to have complete records of your treatment if you went to ER.