If you've never visited an urgent care center or an emergency room before, you may be wondering what the difference between the two is. Here are the main differences that should be taken into consideration:
The Overall Cost
One difference between urgent care and the emergency room is the overall cost of care that you will receive. An emergency room visit can cost literally thousands of dollars, a trip to an urgent care center can cost just a fraction of that. In fact, many urgent care centers charge their patients on a sliding scale to help them budget their care costs.
And even if the emergency room accepts your insurance plan, chances are that some of the costs you are charged for your care will have to come out of your pocket. So if cost is an important factor for you when seeking emergency care services, heading to an urgent care center should help save you some money over going to the emergency room.
The Intake Process
If you have ever been to an emergency room before, you know that it could take hours upon hours before you're able to see a doctor once you've been checked in to the facility. Even when it doesn't seem to be very busy in the waiting room, you can be sure that things are pretty hectic in the hospital. So unless you're visiting the emergency room with a life-threatening problem, you can expect to spend a good portion of your day in the waiting room.
On the other hand, urgent care centers work on a smaller scale and aren't dealing with a constant flow of emergency patients like hospitals do. They don't have ambulances continuously arriving at their doors with patients. So when you show up to visit an urgent care center, you likely won't have to wait nearly as long as you would in an emergency room before getting the care you need.
Your Care Options
Available care options is another difference between emergency rooms and urgent care centers that should be noted. You can count on an emergency room to handle just about any type of injury or illness that comes their way. But urgent care centers aren't typically set up to handle life-threatening problems.
However, urgent care centers can do a lot of the same things that can be done in the emergency ward of a hospital. Broken bones, fevers, animal bites, and many other ailments can be handled at an urgent care center. Most urgent care centers can do X-rays and complete other kinds of diagnosis practices too. And if the urgent care center you visit can't meet your healthcare needs, they'll have you transported to the emergency room if necessary.
For more information, contact an urgent care center.