Need urgent care? Be sure to pick the right place

Emergency Room sign over drive

It’s 5pm. Your child cut himself and the wound is pretty deep – not deep enough for a trip to the emergency room, but the pediatrician’s office is closed.

That’s when you may want to visit an urgent care center.  For non-life threatening conditions, these facilities often offer faster and more cost-effective care, and they are open nights and weekends as well as normal business hours.   But not all facilities offer the same services or charge the same rate, so it’s important to do your research ahead of time.

When to visit the ER

Urgent care clinics are not for life-threatening conditions. In fact, if you have any of the following symptoms, you should call 911 right away:

  • Crushing chest pain
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Severe bleeding
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Sudden loss of vision or blurred vision

If you have severe symptoms that you believe may need hospitalization or surgery, you should also head to the hospital emergency room.

When to CHOOSE AN URGENT CARE CLINIC

On the other hand, an urgent care or after hours clinic may be a better choice for:

  • Minor bumps or injuries
  • Sprains and strains
  • Coughs, colds, and sore throats
  • Ear infections
  • Allergic reactions (non-life threatening)
  • Fever or flu-like symptoms
  • Rash or other skin irritations
  • Mild asthma
  • Animal bites
  • Broken bones

Call ahead if you’re not sure whether your symptoms are severe.

How much will it cost?

Urgent care charges can vary depending on the facility and treatment. Some facilities, classified as Type B emergency departments, can be an extension of a hospital’s emergency room, and you may have to pay a hospital co-pay.  You will be billed much like a hospital ER – one bill from the facility and another bill from the doctor.

Other urgent care facilities, like ADC’s EasyCare Clinic, do not charge a hospital co-pay.  They usually accept most major insurance and collect the policy co-pay at the time of service.  An after-hours convenience fee may also be charged.  These are usually not as high a hospital ER or Type B facility.  Treatment is usually provided by primary care physicians as well as physician assistants and nurse practitioners.  Just like Type B facilities and hospital ER’s, many provide lab and X-ray services.

Best Advice

It’s a good idea to do some research before you need emergency or urgent care services.

Call the facility ahead of time or check it out online.  That way you’ll know where to turn the next time you need care fast.

Resources

 

About the Author

Cindy Brummer is an experience designer and content strategist working with The Austin Diagnostic Clinic.
Cindy is a former television news producer who now writes educational content for the web when she's not designing and developing websites.
A mom of two, she is a runner and weightlifter, who enjoys cooking and listening to books.
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