It’s a long weekend and you’re playing volleyball at the park when you sprain your ankle. You’re preparing Tuesday night dinner and miss the carrots to hit your thumb. Your son’s cold just won’t go away. Your first instinct might once have been to go to the hospital emergency room, but that destination is no longer the only option available when it comes to immediate health care. There are now alternatives that are just as effective and possibly less costly, these being freestanding emergency rooms and urgent care centers. While both offer high-quality care, there are differences between the two that should affect which you choose according to the situation.
Freestanding Emergency Rooms
Freestanding emergency rooms offer the same level of care that emergency rooms attached to hospitals do: they have state-of-the-art equipment, board-certified physicians, medications on the premises, and offer labs and x-rays. The upside of these ERs is that the wait time is greatly reduced compared to an ER attached to a hospital. They cannot admit critically ill people (these patients are transferred to nearby hospitals via ambulance when needed), and they don’t perform surgeries. This leaves time to tend to illnesses and injuries such as strep throat or cuts needing small stitches, which generally don’t take too long to treat, and thus get patients in and out quickly. They are also open 24 hours a day. Patient satisfaction is usually ranked very high at freestanding emergency rooms due to the high quality and level of care and short wait time, which many feel makes it worth the visit.
Urgent Care Centers
Urgent care centers, on the other hand, are a little more different than your standard hospital ER. At an urgent care center, you’ll more likely be treated by a nurse practitioner instead of a certified physician, but you can still feel assured that the quality of care and customer service will be on the same level of a freestanding emergency room, and your wait time will still be considerably less than in a hospital waiting room. Urgent care centers accept Medicare as well as private insurance. They may not have a full lab on site, but they do have x-rays available. Unlike freestanding emergency rooms, urgent care centers are not open 24 hours a day. Still, they have much more flexible hours than your primary care provider, providing an excellent alternative when your condition requires urgent attention and you don’t have time to wait for an appointment with your doctor.
Angleton ER: Your Immediate Health Care Alternative
Both freestanding emergency rooms and urgent care centers are excellent alternatives to a hospital emergency room if your condition is not critical. They offer a high quality of care and a much shorter wait time. It’s important to know the difference between the two so that you don’t overpay, as many patients have who were unaware of the distinctions between the two. The most important factor to consider when choosing where to go is the severity of your injury or illness. Urgent care centers can tend to injuries and illnesses such as sprains/strains and other closed fractures, lacerations, and colds. Freestanding emergency rooms can tend to more serious conditions such as abdominal or chest pains, serious infections, seizures, and heart attacks. In the case of a more serious immediate emergency, a nearby emergency facility such as Angleton ER would be the best place to go.