There may be a time in your life when you will need to go to the hospital. From kitchen accidents to tripping over a stair, sometimes life gets a bit bumpy — and requires medical attention! For life-threatening emergencies that can’t wait, it is always advisable to go to an emergency room (ER). However, for less-pressing medical needs, it may be better to go to an urgent care clinic. There are more than 9,000 urgent care facilities in the United States, each admitting an average of 342 patients a week. What are urgent care units? Urgent care are medical centers that can treat non-life threatening injuries or medical conditions. They are generally smaller than a traditional emergency room and, unlike ERs, have a set amount of open hours.
Why do patients go to urgent care rather than the ER? There are a number of reasons. However, here are three that should give you a better idea on why people flock to urgent care centers across the country:
- They’re Cheaper Than the ER: One main reason why people head over to a community health clinic is that urgent care costs are generally less expensive than ER costs. Patients can save anywhere from $228 to $583 in urgent care clinics for the same diagnosis and treatment offered at the ER. Especially for those patients who lack health insurance, this is a big incentive.
- They’re Faster Than the ER: Waiting times for emergency clinics are generally lower than those of ERs. Roughly 69% of urgent care units have waiting times 20 minutes or less. Twenty-eight percent of clinics have an average waiting time of 20 to 40 minutes and only 3% have waiting times longer than 40 minutes. By emergency room standards, these times are extraordinary.
- They’re Just as Good as ERs: For the most part, urgent care clinics offer the same quality of services that ERs do. Although many are not open 24 hours a day and are considerably smaller than ER facilities, they are run by doctors and medical professionals and have most of the equipment typically found in an ER, including x-rays and pharmaceutical medications. More than 95% of urgent care units have at least one doctor on staff.
There are other advantages to choosing a clinic over an ER, although it must be stated again that life-threatening situations that need immediate care should seek ER treatment. For everything else, though, urgent care clinics provide more than enough medical treatment to make you feel better.