Comparing ER and Urgent Care Options


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What is the difference between ER and urgent care? Many people do not realize there is a difference and they use them interchangeably. However, there is a difference and going to the wrong when depending on your healthcare need can result in wasted time and resources for both you and the medical facility.

An ER is for medical emergencies, which may include accidents, suspected strokes or heart attacks, major falls or other injuries. According to recent reports, there are roughly 110 million emergency room visits each year. An estimated 27% of these visits could have been handled at an urgent care saving $4.4 billion in healthcare costs each year.

An emergency room is not intended for minor injuries, colds, and sore throats, yet that is what many people are using them for. This is a massive waste of resources. Unnecessary emergency rooms visits put a greater level of stress on the staff and increase wait times for other patients. Typically, people choose emergency rooms because they are available 24 hours a day. However, the massive growth in urgent care centers is decreasing the need by providing after hours care.

There are an estimated 10,000 walk-in and stand-alone urgent care facilities throughout the United States with 50 to 100 new clinics opening up each year. On average, an urgent care sees 342 patients a week with an average wait of 14 minutes. The reduced time is one of the best differences between an ER and urgent care.

The urgent care options are varied and dependent on who is running them since urgent cares are owned by a wide range of different entities. As primary case physicians get harder to see and hospitals, especially in rural areas, close down, the dependence on urgent cares because greater.

Urgent cares are well-equipped to provide care for most minor illnesses including colds, strep throat, pink eye, and more. They can also handle minor burns and injuries caused by any number of sources. They are faster and less expensive when comparing ER and urgent care options.

In the passed, many of chosen to go to the ER over the urgent care for health insurance reasons. However, most major insurances now cover urgent care visits. In fact, many urgent care centers are now owned by hospitals making them an extension of the same system.

Urgent care centers are ideal for parents, who work during the day and are not able to easily get their child into the doctor when they are ill. They are also ideal for individuals who are sick, but are told they have to wait weeks to see their primary care physician.

After hours care is one of the greatest advantages of urgent care facilities. As mentioned, in many areas, it is quite hard to get into a primary care physician in a timely manner. With many households either being a two-parent working household or a single-parent household, taking off work during the day to go to a doctor’s appointment is simply not feasible.