There is nothing more unsettling as a parent than when your child needs immediate medical attention. They’ve injured themselves and you think it may be a broken bone. Their stomach bug went from bad to worse. You’re worried that they are dangerously dehydrated.
You might feel like your options are limited. Your doctor doesn’t have any available appointments until next Friday. The Emergency Room can give your child the care they need, but you will probably be sitting in the waiting room for 5 or 6 hours to get it. Thankfully, Urgent Care facilities are becoming increasingly popular and can provide medical attention as soon as you need it, but without the drawbacks of the Emergency Room. Here are several reasons to choose a local Urgent Care over the Emergency Room when you have a medical crisis:
- Using urgent care for non-life threatening issues keeps the Emergency Rooms open to save lives. Almost half of the people who go to the ER but aren’t sick enough to be admitted to the hospital are only there because their doctor’s office was closed. The ER is legally obligated to provide care to everyone who comes in; if the ER doctors are tied up with non-emergencies, they may not be able to provide care to patients who have life-threatening issues. Taking your child to Urgent Care instead of the ER could save someone’s life.
- Your local urgent care can do almost everything you would need to be seen by a doctor for, but faster than an ER. At least 80% of Urgent Cares have X-Ray equipment and can provide fracture care if your child has a broken bone. About 70% of Urgent Care facilities can administer IV liquids when needed. Many Urgent Care units have in-house labs, so you can get a throat swab or blood test to get the prescription you need immediately.
- Your medical issue will receive attention faster in an Urgent Care. It’s an unfortunate fact that overcrowded Emergency Rooms lead to wait times that can last several hours. On top of that, by spending hours upon hours in a small room with other severely sick patients, you expose your child to additional illnesses. On the other hand, 57% of Urgent Care patients wait less than 15 minutes to be seen, and almost all visits take less than 60 minutes from the time you walk in until when you receive your care and leave.
- Visiting your local Urgent Care will cost you less than visiting the Emergency Room. According to a study that analyzed 8,303 Emergency Room bills, the average ER visit costs $1,233 dollars. This is 40% higher than the average cost of a month’s rent in the United States. Meanwhile, a visit to Urgent Care averages about $155. Often times, insurance treats an Urgent Care visit the same as a normal doctor’s visit and the patient is only required to pay the normal copay.
The Emergency Room is a critical, life-saving part of our healthcare system. If you have a life-threatening emergency such as severe bleeding, difficulty breathing, or signs of a heart attack, get into the ER immediately. For everything else, your experience at an Urgent Care center may be faster, cheaper, and easier than an Emergency Room trip.
Have you ever used an Urgent Care center instead of ER or your regular physician? How was your experience? Would you consider using them again? Please leave us a comment with the details.