Choosing Between Urgent Care And The Emergency Room: What You Should Know

When you experience an unexpected medical situation, whether it be illness, injury, or inexplicable symptoms, your first concern is seeking medical attention. However, you may find yourself faced with a conundrum. You wonder where you should go to receive care. In after-hours, emergency situations, you will generally have two viable medical care options: an urgent care center or a hospital emergency room. To determine which is the best option for you, you need to keep a few key factors in mind. Once you know what factors are important in making this decision, you can get the medical care you need as quickly as possible and get to feeling better before you know it. 

Consider Your Costs

One of the biggest concerns that you may have regarding your emergency medical care is how much the trip will cost you. Generally speaking, for routine care (i.e. an exam, diagnosis, and prescription), an emergency room is going to set your back a great deal more than an urgent care clinic.

It costs hospitals a great deal to keep an emergency room operating. They have to pay staff (both medical and non-medical), they have to maintain equipment, and they have to do so 24 hours a day. Because their costs are higher, yours will be higher as well.

And, unfortunately, if you have medical insurance, they will only pay for a portion of your care in certain situations. In most routine care situations however (i.e. not a true emergency), you will be paying the full cost of treatment which may be hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

At an urgent care clinic, if insured, you will pay a basic copay and your insurance will cover the rest. And even if you don't have insurance, your costs will be far lower in an urgent care center, such as Urgent Care Maui, than a hospital emergency room.

Possible Delayed Care Problems

While the cost of treatment is important to consider, you do not want to let it prevent you from seeking out medical attention from the right care providers. If, for example, you are experiencing chest pains, going to an urgent care clinic could actually delay needed care if you are indeed experiencing a heart attack.

Emergency rooms are equipped with supplies to quickly detect and treat a heart attack, and can rush you into emergency surgery should the situation call for such measures. Additionally, if you are showing signs of stroke or have a severe injury that clearly involves broken bones, you should probably head to an emergency room rather than an urgent care clinic.

However, in most other situations, going to an urgent care clinic will provide you with acceptable and necessary medical care. 

How Much Time Do You Have?

Finally, keep time considerations in mind. Hospital emergency rooms prioritize cases as they come in, meaning that medical care is not first come, first serve. Now, this will serve you well if you are experiencing chest pains or are bleeding profusely.

But, if you are suffering from a high fever, nausea, or other, less obviously emergent conditions, you may be looking at a very long wait for care depending on how many other patients are also waiting, and the emergent cases that may take priority over you. 

Now that you know the factors that play into your decision between an urgent care clinic and an emergency room, you will be able to quickly make your decisions and get yourself the care you need. 


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