Every year, approximately 110 million people visit the emergency room. Yet, a study from 2010 by the Rand Corporation found that nearly 1 in five of these visits could have been treated at an urgent care center. If these people had chosen to find urgent care facilities instead of heading to the emergency room, it could have potentially saved $4.4 billion in health care costs. Fortunately, the use of urgent care facilities has been increasing recently, and many people will find urgent care centers before they head to the emergency room. Still, many people are obviously heading to the emergency room when they need immediate medical care, so here are just a few reasons why you should consider trying to find urgent care facilities over the emergency department.
Those who tend to choose the emergency room over urgent care medical centers may be under the mistaken impression that an urgent care facility is unable to deal with their medical problems. While any extremely urgent or severe medical emergency should be treated at an emergency room, urgent care centers can offer medical care for many of the most common medical issues. While those under the age of 75 would generally need urgent care for a wrist fracture, those over that age commonly fracture their hip. Either way, fractures, strains sprains, colds, flu, and many other conditions can all be treated at an urgent care clinic. And in some states, urgent care centers also offer point-of-care prescription dispensing. This allows the patient to receive any prescriptions before they even leave the center. However, in states like New York and Texas, this practice is not legal or extremely limited due to regulations regarding state pharmacy laws.
One of the primary reasons people have begun to find urgent care centers more attractive is because of the increased workload of primary care physicians. This increased workload has led to longer wait times and less time spent with each patient, and an urgent care center can usually provide the same care with less of a wait. Given that the average child catches about six to ten colds every year, you might want to consider saving yourself some time and heading to an urgent care center the next time they start to show symptoms.
If you do not think your injury or illness warrants a trip to the emergency room, you should definitely try to find urgent care centers, as they can save you massive amounts of time and money. While a typical visit to the emergency room has an average wait time of several hours, the typical wait time to be seen at an urgent care center is only 30 minutes. And whereas a visit to the emergency room could cost you several thousand dollars, a visit to an urgent care center generally costs one tenth of that amount. For more about this, go here.