The Difference between a Freestanding Emergency room and an Urgent Care Clinic

The Difference between a Freestanding Emergency room and an Urgent Care Clinic

The one question that usually comes when you or your family member gets injured or becomes ill is whether to go to an emergency room or an urgent care clinic. It can be quite a challenge knowing which of the two is the most appropriate. The first step to finding the answers is knowing the differences between Freestanding Emergency rooms and urgent care clinics. Here are 15 differences as highlighted by Bellaire ER.

1. Freestanding emergency rooms are open 24/7 unlike care clinics
Freestanding emergency rooms operate every hour of the day, each day of the week and every month in the year. This means you can access treatment at any time of the day or night at these facilities. Urgent care clinics, on the other hand, operate only on specific days of the week and within the stipulated working hours. This means that you can only receive their treatment during certain hours making them only suitable for non-urgent medical conditions.

2. Urgent care centers are better suited for nonurgent medical conditions while emergency rooms are better at handling extreme conditions
If you have a minor medical condition like an allergic reaction, broken bone or a minor cut, an urgent care center is better suited to handle your condition at a cheaper cost and on time. Freestanding emergency rooms are to be opted for when you have a serious medical condition such as severe burns, stroke, heart attack and such like. They are better equipped to handle such situations.

3. Urgent care centers are much cheaper compared to emergency rooms.
The cost for urgent care centers’ treatment is enough encouragement for anyone to choose them over Freestanding emergency rooms for their treatment. On average, the treatment cost at an urgent care clinic ranges between $50 and $150 while the cost for treatment in an Emergency room averages at about $1200, although the cost widely depends on the treatment being offered.

4. Urgent care clinics operate on a first-come, first-serve basis unlike emergency rooms
In urgent care clinics, you have to wait in line for your turn to be treated. If you get in line first, you will get treated first. The same does not apply to emergency rooms. There you will be treated based on the severity of your condition. Patients with more severe and urgent treatment conditions are attended to faster than those whose conditions are not that urgent.

5. Freestanding ERs are better equipped
Given the type of treatment that freestanding ERs offer, they are required to have more sophisticated equipment as compared to urgent care clinics.

6. Freestanding ERs accept private insurance only
Urgent care clinics accept any form of insurance a patient has. The minor costs are also easier to handle hence one does not need to rely on their insurance completely. Freestanding ERs only accept private insurance from patients.

7. Urgent care clinics do not charge facility fee
Apart from the treatment fees, the freestanding emergency rooms usually charge an extra fee called the facility fee. Such you fees are not levied in an urgent care center.

8. Urgent care for Co-pay
Insured patients get higher urgent care co-pay if they have insurance in freestanding emergency rooms as compared to urgent care centers.

9. Urgent care centers offer faster treatment services
Treatment in urgent care centers only takes an hour or two to be complete. Freestanding emergency rooms, on the other hand, can take a much longer time treating a patient. You can expect to spend up to 4 hours or even a day depending on the severity of your condition.

10. Patients at Freestanding ERs are always served by certified doctors
Unlike Urgent care centers where a patient can be attended to by either a doctor or a nurse, a patient at Freestanding ER will always be attended to by a certified doctor.

11. Freestanding ERs can organize for hospital transfers
If your medical condition requires you to be transferred to a hospital, you can be easily transferred to your hospital of choice from a Freestanding ER, unlike an urgent care center where you have to take yourself.

12. Freestanding ERs have fully equipped laboratories
Freestanding ERs have fully equipped onsite laboratories that are capable of conducting complex tests and producing immediate results. Urgent care centers may not have fully equipped and capacitated laboratories and equipment.

13. Overnight observation capacity in free-standing ERs
Freestanding ERs usually have the capacity to keep patients overnight as they undergo their treatment. They usually offer observation admissions over short periods of time spanning 8 to 23 hours. Urgent care centers do not offer admissions for patients.

14. Freestanding ERs can administer intravenous fluids unlike urgent care clinics
One notable difference between an Urgent Care Center and a Freestanding ER is that a Freestanding ER can administer intravenous fluids to patients, unlike Urgent care centers that can only offer prescription medicine and injections.

15. Freestanding ERs have an “Emergency” sign
The law requires freestanding emergency rooms to have an “Emergency” sign at the entrance. This is one of the visible distinguishing characteristics.