Should You Go to an Urgent Care Center or to the Emergency Room?
Urgent care visits are expected to increase by approximately 86 percent over the next 12 months, as reported by Urgent Care Association of America. UCAA also estimates that the wait time to be seen on average at urgent care centers is 20 minutes at most. This is significantly less than the amount of time people spend waiting for emergency room services.
A urgent care center can treat a number of non life threatening health care situations far more effectively than hospitals providing emergency room services. Such health care situations include the typical non complicated ear infection, strep throat, urinary tract infection, stomach bug, sprains, bronchitis, cold sores, heartburn, rashes, and back pain. As well, urgent care centers have much of the same equipment and lab testing capabilities as do hospitals offering emergency room services, and for much less money.
Medical urgent care centers, unlike emergency room services, are located in a number of different building types. Some are in freestanding facilities, whereas others are located inside plazas and shopping centers. Three quarters of all urgent care centers are found within suburban communities, and 15 percent of urgent care locations are in urban areas. Regardless of where you live, there should be an urgent care center within close proximity of you.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, approximately one half of all adult emergency room patients not sick enough to be admitted to the hospital only sought emergency room services due to their doctors offices being closed. Emergency room services are designed to treat acute, life threatening medical issues, not normal health concerns. The Rand Corporation concluded in 2010 that 20 out of 100 health care issues that precipitated a visit to the ER could have been treated more effectively at urgent care centers. If people went to urgent care centers rather than emergency rooms for non life threatening issues, $4.4 billion could be saved on health care costs every year in the U.S. Therefore, people in need of treatment for non life threatening health problems ought to go to their local urgent care center rather than visiting the ER. More.