Hospital Emergency Room Visits versus Urgent Care Facilities

Urgent care services

Rather than visiting a traditional hospital emergency room, many medical issues and conditions can by treated at an urgent care facility. Since roughly half of all urgent care facilities are owned by an individual physician or group of physicians, there are a number of benefits to this affordable alternative to hospital emergency room care. Every week, 21.7% of urgent care centers see over 450 patients, which is a substantial number.

Patients don’t need to wait as long to see a physician or mid-level provider at an urgent care facility. It’s also important to note that 65% of these facilities have an on-site physician present during operating hours. Approximately 60% of these facilities have a waiting time less than 15 minutes. The Urgent Care Association of America conducted a survey that found 57% of patients only waited 15 minutes or less. Furthermore, 80% of the patient visits lasted for an hour or less.

Urgent care centers usually open before 9:00 a.m., and many are also open for a specific number of hours throughout the weekend. These centers also tend to stay open until 7:00 p.m. during the week, while others may remain open until 9:00 p.m. or even later.

Urgent care centers are able to provide a variety of important services, many of which are traditionally associated with hospital emergency rooms. Intravenous fluids, for example, can be administered at 70% of these facilities. Bone fractures can also be addressed at 80% of urgent care centers.

It’s also noteworthy that 40% of urgent care centers have electronic prescription ordering systems. They also have computerized systems which enable them to view lab and imaging results. Patient demographics, billing, condition and procedure coding, and clinical notes are all accessible due to these computerized systems.

Many patients seek after-hours medical assistance at traditional hospital emergency rooms because their regular physicians are unavailable. In most cases, these patients do not present with issues that are severe enough to admit them to the hospital. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that this applied to 48% of the emergency room patients in their recent survey.

Since many issues, including preventative care, can be addressed at an urgent care facility, it’s important that more people become aware of this treatment option. In addition to not having to wait for hours to receive expert care, patients will not incur the exorbitant costs associated with emergency room visits.

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