Emergency Room or Urgent Care

With the costs of health care increasing in all aspects, it is important to understand the difference between emergency rooms and urgent care centers. If you find yourself in an emergency situation, don't hesitate to go to the emergency department of a hospital but if you have a less threatening condition, consider an urgent care facility.

Emergency rooms are extremely expensive not only due to the procedures, services, and equipment offered there, but also because much of the care they deliver is uncompensated for.Emergency rooms are required to provide care for every patient that walks through the door, regardless of if they can pay for it.Therefore, many patients without health insurance rely on ERs as their primary health care provider.  It is estimated more than 18 billion dollars could be saved annually if patients with non-urgent problems did not rely on ERs.

Urgent care facilities are a less expensive alternative to the ER.They are walk-in facilities that are often open extended hours like nights and weekends.They can provide basic laboratory and x-ray services and can also prescribe medication.

Say for example, you contract conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye, over the weekend and cannot wait until Monday to see your primary physician.You may consider going to the emergency room to receive a diagnosis and prescribed medication.One study found that this choice would cost you an estimated $500. Or, you could go to an urgent care center where the same care would cost you an estimated $150. If you are nervous your condition may require more attention than an urgent care facility can provide, go to the ER, but keep in mind even if you do go to the urgent care facility first, they can assess the situation and call an ambulance if needed.

One way to avoid going to the ER unnecessary is by planning ahead.Know where the nearest urgent care centers, and ERs are located near your home, work, and places you frequently travel.Have hours of operation and phone numbers readily accessible.That way, when you do have an urgent medical issue, you will be able to make a more informed decision about which facility will best fit your needs.

Watch this movie to check out a doctor talking about the ER and Urgent Care.