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[Urgent Care Center vs ER.] It is a make or break on your pocket.

After I was in a serious accident myself, as a father of two, I can certainly speak to the unpredictability of life.

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With such unexpected events, often come unexpected expenses– like when my son slipped on ice and fractured his finger.

After finally leaving the Emergency Room after a grueling seven-hour wait, we received a bill that would have sent me back with a heart attack had we not been covered by health insurance.

There’s no way to prevent things like these from happening. It’s practically a parent’s rite of passage. The best we can do is ensure that we and our families are protected when we’re met with these surprises.

That being said, it’s also important to know what options are best for you in the case of an emergency.

The Urgent Care Center can often be more convenient than a doctor’s office.

It does not require appointments, and you can see a doctor directly. While sometimes you will be treated right away, there is often a bit of a wait.

That’s what makes Urgent Care more suitable for injuries and illnesses than others. Do not go to the urgent care clinic for dental problems, afflictions that require first aid, or for illnesses that require a doctor to prescribe medication.

Moreover, Urgent Care Center nurses have undergone special training for first aid and doctors are always present on site for specialized treatment. If special assistance is needed, a hospital will be contacted immediately, and you will be referred there.

As opposed to the ER, a trip to the Urgent Care Center may save you hours of waiting, and a good deal of money.

ER vs. Urgent Care

​Knowing when to go to urgent care or the ER can be confusing. And when accidents happen or sickness strikes, deciding where to go for help in the moment can be hard. The most important thing is to get the right care from the right place.

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The average urgent care visit costs patients $71-125 for basic care, with additional costs added for shots, x-rays, and labs. The average emergency room visit costs $1,818.

Click to read: The Cost of Emergency Room Care

The average emergency room has a wait time of 2.4 hours, whereas urgent care centers are able to see walk-in patients within 15-45 minutes. However, that wait time does not express the time patients will spend waiting for services while in the doctor’s office. In most cases, an urgent care center helps patients through the system much faster, as its care is more limited and specific.

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When Should You go to Urgent Care?

  • Fever

  • Ear pain, earache

  • Painful urination, dysuria

  • Persistent diarrhea

  • Sore throat

  • Vomiting

  • Mild asthma

  • Minor burns

  • Rashes and other skin irritations

  • Animal bites

  • Dehydration

  • Lacerations

  • Infections

  • Simple fractures and sprains

  • Nosebleeds

When Should I Go to the Emergency Room?

  • Confusion

  • Head injury

  • Coughing blood, hemoptysis

  • Severe chest pain

  • Shortness of breath

  • Abdominal pain

  • Sudden vision changes

  • Spinal injuries,

  • Uncontrollable bleeding

  • Severe vomiting and/or diarrhea

  • Seizures

  • Drug overdoses

  • Severe burns

Emergency Rooms

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Americans made 145 million visits to one of the country’s nearly 5,000 emergency rooms in 2016. Approximately 23 million of them arrived by ambulance. About 43% of all hospital admissions originate in an emergency room.

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Commonly Asked Questions Regarding Urgent Care Centers:

1. Why do urgent care centers exist?

They exist because there is an unfortunate gap in the healthcare system that other options do a poor job of addressing.

If you need a routine check-up or help managing chronic condition, you should make an appointment to see a physician in their office. If you have a knife sticking out of your chest, you should go to a hospital ER, pronto. But what about the scenarios that fall somewhere in the middle?

Sometimes, it is obvious that a third option is needed. Doctor’s offices have limited hours, require appointments in advance, and aren’t well suited for acute care.

Hospital Emergency rooms are open all the time, accept walk-ins, and are designed for acute care, but if you go to an ER with a twisted ankle, you better bring a book and a pillow because you may be waiting all day and night to be seen — the heart attacks, strokes, stabbings, and severe traumas will all get to skip ahead of you in line.

Beyond the wait, you’ll also pay dearly for the privilege of accessing a fully staffed, ready-for-anything-at-all-times facility like a hospital ER. Urgent Care Centers were designed for that gray area that falls between what a primary care doctor’s office is best at (non-acute care with advanced notice) and what a hospital emergency room is best at (acute care of severe to life threatening injury or illness).

An urgent care center can handle those less than life and death situations where you’d still rather not wait x days or weeks for an appointment. Urgent Care Centers: accept walk-ins, don’t require an appointment, keep broad hours (some open 24/7), can handle a wide array of, “can’t wait,” problems, are usually cheaper than an ER visit, are usually faster than an ER visit (for conditions they can handle*).

Bottom Line: If you can’t go to a doctor’s office and you don’t need to go to a hospital, an urgent care center may be a much more time and cost efficient means of getting healthcare that can’t wait.

2. What is the difference between an urgent care center and an emergency department?

ER visits are one of the most expensive ways to get healthcare. Besides the financial expense, you should also know that if you have anything less than a true emergency, you may be waiting for hours and hours. If at all possible, you want to avoid the emergency room.

Going to an urgent care center can save you time and money. They’re a good option for simple, straightforward, non-life-threatening problems. Urgent Care Centers Are Good For: minor soft tissue injuries, simple fractures, cold & flu, pink eye, minor localized allergic reaction, anything you’d normally prefer to take to your primary care doctor but can’t because they’re closed or unavailable.

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An Emergency Room is Necessary For: Breathing Problems, Chest Pain, Severe Bleeding, Severe Pain or Illness, Significant Trauma, Any Kind of Paralysis, Headache if accompanied by other problems or if it’s “the worst of your life,” Sudden Difficulty Speaking or Moving, Sudden Change in Mental State (where someone isn’t acting like themselves), Anyone Unconscious or that Previously Lost Consciousness.

Allergic Reactions Affecting Airway or Breathing, Overdose or Poisoning, Active Labor or Pregnancy Complications.

Do not fool around with any of the above problems. Go directly to an ER, do not pass go.

3. Can a tourist use an “urgent care” in New York? (Can an American tourist use an “urgent care” in London?)

You can use any of the following Hospital A&E (Accident and Emergency) departments for serious problems: a variety of walk-in centers, urgent care centers, and minor injury units, depending on the location.

These are usually staffed by nurses, not doctors, so may not be able to prescribe antibiotics directly if you need them; their main job is stitching cuts, setting bones, treating infections, and giving out the morning-after pill.

Some health centers are ‘GP-led’ and provide full services, including prescriptions. Doctors (general practitioners) — you need to be a UK resident to register with a GP, though some will allow temporary registration if you’re in the country for longer than 24 hours, while others will offer emergency treatment even if you aren’t registered.

You may need to make an appointment, however, unlike in walk-in centers. There’s a UK national helpline, 111, which can give health advice and/or direct you to the closest treatment center suitable for your problem.

The emergency number 999 (yes it is 999 in UK vs the 911 in USA) is intended for more serious or life-threatening situations. US citizens will normally need to pay for all non-emergency NHS treatment.

In practice, I believe that this fee is sometimes waived for minor cases on the grounds that it would cost more in administration fees to collect the money than the treatment is actually worth, but don’t rely on this! In addition, there is a standard charge for all prescription medicines, payable when you get them.

4. Can urgent care clinics provide lab services?

Yes, urgent care clinics do provide lab services. Urgent care clinics are required to provide in-house lab services as the diagnosis for any injury or medical problem can only be carried out with the help of blood testing reports.

These lab reports determine what treatment will be appropriate for a particular condition. Urgent care clinics provide treatment for all sorts of minor illness and injuries and any good urgent care clinic is well-equipped with the required medical supplies to attend to their patient’s needs.

You can find various Urgent care clinics in and around Irvine, Yorba Linda, Tustin and Laguna Beach, to get immediate treatment for your medical condition.

5. Will urgent care clinics give me pain meds for tooth pain?

They will give you antibiotics, if you have an infection. However, they will not prescribe any narcotics for pain

They could write you a prescription for ibuprofen (which is Advil).

I know sometimes tooth pain can be unbearable so if that is the case and you cannot see a dentist, I would recommend that you go to an emergency room in a hospital setting.

If they diagnose you with something that needs a strong painkiller, they will prescribe it. Usually ,this will happen if they see signs of an infection.

You may also receive a prescription if you have a traumatic injury. For example, if you fall and hit your teeth or you have a sports-related injury that affects your teeth, they may assist you with pain medication.

One exception, though, is if you have severe pain from a tooth that has serious decay: a cavity that is so deep that the bacteria has already reached the nerve and now the nerve is dying.

For instance, if it’s deep decay that is causing the pain, a physician would not be able to diagnose that and therefore, wouldn’t be able to give you any strong painkillers; they would suggest you take Advil or Tylenol.

Hope this helps.

6. What kind of tests do urgent care centers perform?

In an urgent care center, diagnostic testing can be performed. Urgent care clinics are able to perform an x-ray during the visit if your condition requires one.

Typically, when you are in need of an x-ray, you either have to get a referral and a script from your primary physician, or you have to go to the emergency room to get an x-ray.

What if your condition was not life-threatening and you did not want to take the dreaded trip to the ER?

This is where urgent care clinics come in. They offer the opportunity for patients to wait until a doctor examines them and then have an x-ray done now, if required.

Having both a doctor’s visit and an x-ray in one-trip helps to save the patient’s time, as well as get them treatment quicker, which can reduce pain, anxiety, and possibly even reduce further damage if treated immediately.

EKG: An EKG may be essential if you are experiencing heart arrhythmias or any other uneasy heart-related issues.

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While you should always go to your nearest emergency room for any type of heart condition that could be life threatening, an urgent care center does have the ability to run an EKG should you need one while you are at your visit.

Certain surgical procedures may also require a pre-surgical EKG, which an urgent care clinic can perform for you.

Not all doctor offices have EKG technicians or even EKG machines, so an urgent care center is a great option if you need to have one done.

Strep Testing: Rapid strep tests are available at urgent care clinics. Having a sore throat can drag you down and could be a sign of a nasty bacterial infection.

Urgent care centers perform Rapid strep tests, and they only take a couple of minutes to provide results to the doctor.

Mono: An urgent care center does test for mono. This illness can really take its toll on you, and when you have mono, you will most likely know it due to the symptoms. Mono is not something you will want to wait to get into your primary physician for a diagnosis which is why this diagnostic procedure at an urgent care center is so useful.

STD Testing: STD testing is available at urgent care centers. If you are at risk for potentially having an STD, this is something you will want to get medical treatment for right away. Urgent care centers are able to provide testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases.

Drug Screening: You may be in need of a drug-screening test for school or work. Instead of going to your doctor for a script to go to a different lab, you can go to an urgent care center for a single stop and complete your drug screening.

Alcohol use testing is also available.

Pregnancy Tests: Going to your physician or purchasing a pregnancy test in the store is not the only way to test for pregnancy. At urgent care clinics, you are able to walk in and get a pregnancy test done as well.

Blood Tests: Blood tests used to confirm the diagnosis of various types of medical conditions. Urgent care centers have trained phlebotomists available to take a blood sample and test for things such as complete blood counts, therapeutic blood levels, and full lab panels.

Influenza (Flu): Flu screenings are available at urgent care centers. A doctor typically sees flu symptoms as crucial and treats the flu with an anti-viral as soon as possible.

You cannot wait more than a couple of days after symptoms start to see a doctor, since the medications only work well if the flu is caught early. One must head to an urgent care center immediately for testing, if you suspect you have the flu.

Hypertension: High blood pressure is a leading cause of heart disease if left untreated. If you believe you have high blood pressure, it is important to see a doctor.

You can go to an urgent care clinic to have a high blood pressure screening. Based on the results, the physician can start you on medications to control your blood pressure.

Urinalysis: Urinalysis testing diagnoses various types of medical conditions. Urinalysis testing detects kidney issues, pregnancy, urinary tract infections, and drug usage, just to name a few.

If you are at an urgent care center, and your symptoms require a urinalysis, you will not have to go to an additional lab to have this done, they can run this diagnostic test right at the clinic.

The above information is from Quora
Related Article from our website:

Urgent Care Center in NY
Conclusion: NY City has one of the most expensive medical insurance premiers in the world. (Despite us having the best hospital like Memorial Sloan Kettering, Columbia & Cornell Presbyterian hospital…)

Often times, people do not understand how to correctly use the emergency medical system.

Like myself, spending almost an entire day waiting at the Flushing Hospital Emergency Room vs. a simple 30 minute wait at my local Citied Urgent Care.

We are not endorsing Citied specifically; however, we felt that helping people could make the world better.

We always share ideas of using urgent care with all of our insurance clients. It helps them save tens of thousands of dollars for their family every year.
We rather use the money on advertising & channel them into building something useful, like this blog in hopes to benefit you.

7. What are the common criteria for urgent care centers?

The criteria for urgent care centers worldwide are given below:

i. The urgent care centers must have a good communication with local hospitals so that the patients who have an emergency are rushed to them.

ii. The urgent care centers should have equipment for minor stitches and surgeries so that no patient is left untreated.

iii. The urgent care centers should be large enough to have multiple examination rooms.

iv. The urgent care centers should have various business standards.

v. The urgent care centers should have on-site diagnostic equipment such as an X-ray.

vi. The urgent care centers are open on any day and should be open 7 days a week.

vii. The urgent care centers should have registered and licensed physicians to take care of the patients properly.

viii. The most highly trained physicians are selected for the medical director position and he should supervise the entire urgent care center.

ix. The urgent care centers should perform all minor medical procedures.

x. They should treat a broad spectrum of illness and injuries.

xi. The urgent care centers should accept and treat patients even in their business hours.

8. What to expect from women health care in urgent care centers?

In all the urgent care centers specially trained gynecologists are present who can identify feminine issues, as well as treat them or get the patient to an emergency room in the local hospital. All urgent care centers treat symptoms associated with women’s health issues including:

i. Vaginal infections such as yeast infection

ii. Fungal infection such as jock itch

iii. Morning sickness

iv. First trimester bleeding

v. Urinary tract infection

One should not doubt rushing to urgent care centers if they have the following symptoms:

i. Unusual discharges

ii. Sudden pain in the pelvic region or in the abdominal region

iii. Vaginal itchiness

iv. Spotting

v. Nausea

vi. Dizziness

Urgent care centers have highly equipped staff and facilities used for treatment. In addition, there are female nurses and female doctors who would be there to look after the patients’ safety.

9. What are the advantages of urgent care centers?

i. Urgent care centers close at 8 p.m. or some even later.

ii. Urgent care centers do not need appointments prior to the visit.

iii. The doctors are no less qualified than that of the hospital’s.

iv. Urgent care centers are the most affordable medical services one can get. The urgent care centers cost only the fraction of an emergency room.

v. They provide preventative care options like flu shots, adult vaccines, and school-related medical checkups.

vi. Urgent care centers are open 7 days a week.

vii. Urgent care centers have female nurses and female physicians to look after the safety of female patients.

viii. The urgent care centers can take care of emergencies including: earaches, cuts, sprains, broken bones, the flu, fever, throat sores, moderate asthma as well as abdominal pains, vomiting, fungal infections like jock itch, vaginal infections like yeast infections, nausea, dizziness, and morning sickness.

ix. The urgent care centers have an on-site diagnosis like x-ray, endoscopy, MRI, ultrasound.

As a result, one does not have to rush here and there to get the necessary reports. It can be very convenient for the patient and their family members to come into a clinic.

10. Are urgent cares centers very expensive?

First, urgent care centers are not more expensive than other forms of care. They are often known for being less expensive.

Even more for people with insurance because they do not have to worry about cost at all, since urgent care centers accept all sorts of health insurance.

The average urgent care visit ranges from $50-$150, depending on the patient’s level of treatment. This cost is often a fraction of what the patient would pay in an emergency room.

Therefore, urgent care clinics are very much pocket-friendly and are a blessing to middle-class people.

Urgent care centers save people from going bankrupt and helps them to receive the medical treatment they deserve.

Likewise, if treatment requires an x-ray or any kind of report or examination, the price may go up the scale, but it will still be a lot cheaper than elsewhere.

The above information is from:

Related Article from our website:

Link to the biggest Urgent Care Center in NY

Conclusion: NY City has one of the most expensive medical insurance premium( ) in the world. (Despite us having the best hospital like Memorial Sloan Kettering, Columbia & Cornell Presbyterian hospital…)
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