When you’re in need of medical care and your doctor’s office is closed, it can be hard to pick the right place to go. Urgent care centers and emergency rooms are both widespread, with likely at least one of each in your area. There are times when either is ideal and times when one over the other should be utilized.
For one thing, seeking out emergency room care is always a good idea when you are facing a life threatening medical event. For something like a suspected stroke or heart attack, emergency room care will be essential. A serious injury is also likely to warrant emergency room care from top doctors skilled in such matters. But seeking out emergency room care for lesser issues is something that can actually be detrimental, not beneficial, as much as emergency room care has its place in the world.
For one thing, seeking out emergency room care for a less than emergent medical concern is likely to take a very long time. For less than emergent cases, you can expect to wait in the waiting room for a while. In addition to this, you can wait even longer once you get an actual room, as there are often overstaffed doctors and nurses providing this emergency room care. The cost of emergency room care is also very high, with the typical emergency room visit even for a minor concern costing at least $1,000, if not even more than this.
But what alternative to emergency room care do we have for minor medical concerns? More and more often, people are seeking out urgent care treatment as an option and forgoing emergency room care. As a matter of fact, recent data has found that at least three million people are being treated in urgent care locations over the course of just one week. This amounts to nearly 90 million being treated in such walk in health clinics over the course of a single year, a number that is still very much on the rise and likely to continue to grow in the years that are ahead of us.
What kind of care can you get in an urgent care center and is it on par with emergency room care? The answer to this question might be more extensive than you realize. For one thing, ankle sprains are commonly treated in urgent care settings, especially as there are up to 25,000 cases of ankle sprains over the course of a single year. Severe ankle sprains must be checked out, as there is the potential that a fracture occurred as well. Fortunately, the majority (around 80%) of all urgent care locations actually now have the capacity and capabilities to provide this level of care, thus saving many people from having to seek out emergency room care for a suspected minor fracture.
Local doctors working for urgent care clinics can also provide care for various other illnesses and conditions. For instance, sunburns are commonly treated in urgent care locations, especially during summer months when they are most common. After all, sunburns can become more severe more quickly than many realize, with the skin beginning to sustain damage and burn after only just 15 minutes of sun exposure and no protection. If you forget to apply sunscreen again or simply just stay in the sun for too long, it stands to reason that you might sustain a significant burn. Fortunately, assessment and relief for this burn can be provided at your average urgent care facility.
Urgent care facilities benefit patients in their average waiting times as well. After all, it has been found that up to 70% of all urgent care facilities have average wait times of only just 20 minutes, something that is certainly quite impressive, especially in comparison to the time that you might have to wait before receiving emergency room care. Most patients are even able to get in and out of an urgent care center within a mere hour, something that is virtually unheard of when it comes to hospitals an emergency rooms.
All in all, there are many reasons to go to an urgent care facility and many reasons to still get emergency room care too.