Urgent Care vs Emergency Room

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July 24th, 2012
Categories: Health News

Urgent Care Clinics Save Time & Money

urgent care

With the US healthcare system continuing to face issues with access to care, rising costs and increasing demands on emergency care departments, urgent care clinics are the solution for many patients and insurers. These facilities are typically well received by consumers, covered by health plans and have the ability to treat a variety of conditions at a fraction of the cost. According to the Local Health System Performance Scorecard, access to care varies greatly depending on geographic location, leaving some areas in great need for alternatives to traditional emergency care, such as urgent care clinics.

It is estimated that anywhere from 13.7 to 27.1 percent of all emergency room visits could take place at an alternative treatment site such as an urgent care center. This adds up to a potential cost savings of approximately $4.4 billion annually according to a study published by the Rand Corporation. Insurers, patients and medical practitioners have all taken notice that the unnecessary use of hospital emergency care results in a drain of medical resources, increased medical costs and extended wait times. Many insurers and self-funded employers are now steering their members to visit urgent care centers for non-emergency care and many hospital systems are also operating stand-alone clinics to capitalize on this growing trend.

Urgent care clinics provide healthcare on a walk-in, no appointment basis for acute illness or injury that is not life or limb threatening. The care provided at these clinics is often beyond the scope or capability of the typical primary care practice or retail clinic but at a lower level of urgency/intensity than what is found in an emergency care department.

Urgent Care Clinic or Emergency Room?

Urgent Care

  • Minor accidents that are not life-threatening
  • Fractures or sprains
  • Simple cuts and lacerations
  • Allergic reactions or rashes
  • Burns and rashes
  • Animal bites
  • Eye swelling or pain
  • Respiratory infections
  • Mild asthma
  • Colds, flu, fevers, earaches and sore throats

Emergency Room

  • Chest pain and shortness of breath, or signs of heart attack
  • Signs of stroke, like sudden numbness in the arms or legs
  • Seizures
  • Severe injuries, burns or electrical shock
  • Unconsciousness
  • Pregnancy complications
  • Poisoning
  • Coughing up or Vomiting blood
  • Head Injuries
  • Bleeding that will not stop after 10 minutes of direct pressure

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