When it comes to all kinds of medical emergencies, no patient should be denied immediate medical care. However, the question here is whether it is a must for all patients to visit an emergency room when faced with a particular problem. Due to the limited capacities and capabilities of ER centers, it is impossible to cater to the needs and requirements of every patient.
Urgent Care Centers VS. Clinics And ERs
When thinking about emergency rooms, many people come up with an image of a frenetic ambulance with a large number of patients in stretchers. The facilities of an ER center are mainly reserved for life-threatening conditions and situations, which include gunshot wounds, intense burns, and grave vehicular accidents. Doctors and the rest of the medical staff in an emergency room are usually working on a highly hectic schedule, and they respond only to the cases that require their immediate attention.
On the other hand, private clinics are mainly focused on providing services to those who have the time luxury and who need something checked up in case they notice something is wrong with their health. Clinic consultations are mainly set through neatly scheduled appointments, and the doctors and nurses usually have plenty of time to cater to the needs of their patients.
But, what happens if a patient has an urgent, albeit non-life-threatening medical situation. Well, this is exactly the niche of modern urgent care facilities and centers. These centers specialize in offering urgent medical services and treatments to those who are faced with non-life-threatening medical situations.
A recent surge in popularity
These facilities have been offering their services since the early 1970’s, but it was only in the last few years that their services have become quite popular. It is estimated that there are more than 10.000 urgent care centers all across the country. Urgent care centers usually work with nurses and doctors on call. These professionally trained and experienced medical workers will initially assess the situation and the condition of a patient and, depending on its severity, immediately respond with the most appropriate treatment. This can include a simple first aid treatment or an immediate transfer to the nearest ER.
Costs and availability
As opposed to emergency centers, which must be open 24/7, urgent care centers are free to assign their working hours. This is why patients should inform themselves about the timetable of a certain urgent care center in their area beforehand.
Another reason why urgent care centers have become so popular is the fact that they offer considerable savings, in comparison to traditional emergency departments. Whereas emergency rooms are bound by law to provide immediate medical assistance to those in need, regardless of whether they can pay or not, urgent care centers have the right to refuse those who are unable to pay. It’s no secret that ERs and hospitals usually try to recover their financial losses by charging pretty high fees to insured patients. On the other hand, urgent care centers do not have this need
Shorter waiting time
Urgent care centers are also popular due to a much shorter waiting time between the initial diagnosis and the treatment. Therefore, if a patient has some minor ailments only, such as mild burns, strains, sprains, cuts, asthma attacks, or some minor infections, they will most certainly find urgent care centers to be a much better option that ERs or private clinics.