Do I Go to A Freestanding Emergency Room or an Urgent Care Center?
Injuries and illnesses can occur at any time, and patients rush to the nearest medical facility seeking treatment. Depending on where you live, you could visit a freestanding ER or an urgent care center. The difference between these two facilities is often blurred. For example, Bellaire ER is a freestanding emergency room. What then separates us from an urgent care center? Here are a few things you should know before making a decision.
Differences Between Freestanding ER and an Urgent Care Center
A free-standing ER is expected to be open for 24 hours. This means that patients can receive medical care at any time of the day. Urgent Care centers, on the other hand, treat conditions that are urgent for the patients that do not want to wait in line. However, they are not open for 24 hours.
ERs are established to handle emergency conditions but are not attached to a hospital. The ER will prioritize treatments for deep cuts, chest pains, heart attacks, fevers, chills, vomiting, and abdominal pains. Urgent care facilities will handle conditions that are less critical but are urgent due to increasing discomfort. These conditions include fevers without rashes, sore throat, surface wounds, and headaches.
Patients that may not have life threatening conditions are forced to wait longer in an ER. A freestanding ER is still an ER and treatment is given based on the severity of the condition. Patients are advised to visit an urgent care facility if they do not wish to queue for long.
Treatment in an urgent care facility for mild illnesses is quicker. It is important to remember that emergency rooms are unpredictable. Patients could be rushed in at any moment, which extends waiting time.
A freestanding ER, such as Bellaire ER cannot accept Medicare or Medicaid. This is because they are not part of a hospital system, and are therefore prohibited by law to do so. However, patients without insurance are not turned away because cash payments are also accepted. Patients with private insurance stand to benefit the most from a freestanding ER.
Urgent care centers reserve the right to accept or deny any insurance provider. Most facilities have no problem accepting Medicare patients, but the center may choose not to. The patient is therefore expected to find other means of payment.
Remember that some insurance providers may refuse to pay for non-emergent conditions. This may seem unfair for most patients who rush to an ER to seek medical attention, only to end up with huge bills for mild conditions. Unfortunately, an ER cannot limit the services it offers, and patients can only be encouraged to visit an urgent care facility for some conditions.
Urgent care centers are cheaper than ERs. However, this does not mean that the facility will treat you for critical conditions. Remember that an ER will charge a facility fee and has to run X-rays, CTs, and lab tests. This means that the overall costs for treatment of a mild condition will be higher.
The ER is expected to provide a deeper and accurate diagnosis so that if the condition is severe, the patient can be rushed to a hospital for further treatment. While Bellaire ER does not advise a patient to self-diagnose, it is easier to visit an urgent care facility if the condition is indeed mild. The urgent care center will save you unnecessary costs.
Most urgent care facilities may not have their own ambulance services because they are meant to handle milder conditions when compared to those of the ER. However, paramedics may drive you to an urgent care center if they find that your condition is not fatal. In any case, patients can still choose the facility they want to be driven to. ERs, on the other hand, may have their own ambulance services, that patients can request when emergencies occur.
Remember that an ER can rush you to a hospital for specialized care. Chronic conditions such as diabetes and depression are better dealt with in a hospital. An ER is not equipped to handle surgeries and rare conditions, and for this reasons, they will refer patients to a hospital.
Urgent care centers can run laboratory tests, take X-rays, and quickly deal with fractures, burns, and injuries that are not severe. Emergency rooms can also offer these services, and do so at a higher level. Patients can also get CT scans and ultrasounds in ERs. Bellaire ER offers full X-ray, ultrasound services, and CT scanning for patients. We also have in-house laboratory services.
An urgent care center has nurses and doctors that can readily treat a fracture, surface wound and injury, minor burns, and colds within a short period and low costs. Free-standing emergency rooms are equipped to deal with severe conditions, and the services are offered at a higher level, and generally costlier. Bellaire ER is ready to treat emergent conditions, and all patients are welcome to our facility. For more information, visit Bellaire ER, today.