Urgent Care vs. Emergency Room – How Do You Know?

When should you go to WiseCare Urgent Care Centers instead of the Emergency Room?

Because urgent care centers are designed to treat same-day problems (ie, finger cut, sprained ankle, severe sore throat) and not meant for life-threatening emergencies (ie, heart attack, stroke, major trauma), urgent care centers have become a “bridge” between the PCP’s office and the hospital ER.

According to the U.S. Government Division of Health Care Statistics, only 15 percent of the patients seen in the emergency room are true medical emergencies. That means that 85 percent of the patients could have sought treatment elsewhere – such as urgent care where wait times are at a minimum and much less costly than a visit to the emergency room.

Many hospital ERs charge a “facility fee” just to walk in the door, usually ranging from $300 to $500. That fee helps cover the cost of having on hand, 24/7, all the equipment and staff needed to treat even the most extreme emergencies. A recent CDC report discovered that visits to the ER could easily run more than $1000 for adults. While a patient who visits an urgent care centered is usually charged around $150.

Recent statistics reveal that most Americans are visiting urgent care centers more frequently than an emergency room (ER) or their primary care physician (PCP). A recent poll titled “Patients’ Perspectives on Health Care in the United States: A Look At Seven States & The Nation,” released by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, reports that most people disclosed they have visited an urgent care center rather than their PCP or an ER because they believe it is more convenient, takes less time than going to their regular doctor, and it may be less expensive.

WiseCare offers walk-in urgent care 7 days a week at two locations in Anne Arundel County: Severna Park and Pasadena. Patients can see “wait times” on www.wisecaremd.com and before leaving home can “get in line” at either medical center! Or patients may call 410.255.7900.

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