It’s a scene that often plays out in countless emergency rooms: a patient with an immediate medical concern makes a late night trip to the emergency room only to wait and wait, watching minutes turn to hours as they wait for their name to be called and to be seen by an emergency room doctor.
While going to the ER can be a quick fix, those who go could be in for a long wait to see an emergency room doctor. The average time spent waiting in the ER increased from 46.5 minutes to 58.1 minutes from 2003 to 2009. Not only are visitors left in physical pain from long waits, they could be left feeling financial pain as well. According to the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, the average ER visitor pays anywhere from $615 to $1,318 per visit.
With the cost of ER visits on the rise and long wait times, urgent care facilities offer patients many options when it comes to finding a quicker and more cost-effective way to be treated. According to the Urgent Care Association of America, an estimated three million patients visit an urgent care clinic each week. Currently there are 20,000 physicians practicing urgent care medicine.
An Urgent care clinic is essentially a bridge between a walk-in health clinic and the emergency room. Unlike some walk-in medical clinics, which deal with basic medical aliments, urgent care facilities can offer many services including lab and blood work, x-rays and treatment for broken bones and fractures. Urgent care facilities deal with non-severe issues and about 85 percent of them are open every day and often with extended hours.
Consider for a moment that:
- Approximately 25,000 Americans suffer every day from an ankle sprain.
- Dizziness is the second most common complaint heard in doctor’s offices and it occurs in 70 percent of the American population.
- Sixty five percent of people older than 60 experience dizziness or loss of balance, sometimes daily.
- At least 40 percent of those suffering from chronic low-back pain don’t see a doctor or physical therapist.
- Up to 69 percent of Americans say low back pain affects them on a daily basis.
An urgent care clinic can help treat all of these symptoms that plague Americans on a day-to-day basis. The list of symptoms that can be treated at an urgent care is growing with facilities able to treat sports injuries, muscle strain and sprains, asthma, ear infections, sexually transmitted diseases, dizziness and many other ailments. The most common problem at an urgent care clinic was upper respiratory condition and the most common procedure was wound repair in 2012.
This could be of great benefit to Baby Boomers everywhere, who are dealing with chronic conditions in increased numbers.
Emergency room doctors play an important role in providing patients with vital care, often in life threatening situations. But waiting in the ER for a non-threatening injury or condition can take hours and urgent care facilities can offer less wait time and help for anyone who comes in. To find an urgent care doctor or an urgent care clinic in your area, visit UrgentCareCenter.org.