Urgent Cares vs. Emergency Rooms

By: Dr. LouAnne Ten Kate, Five Star Urgent Care’s Regional Medical Director

At Five Star Urgent Care, it is not uncommon for us to hear the questions ‘what is urgent care?’ and ‘why should I choose an urgent care center?’ The term ‘urgent care’ is defined as ”the delivery of ambulatory medical care outside of a hospital emergency department on a walk-in basis without a scheduled appointment.” Urgent care centers provide medical treatment for injuries or ailments that need to be cared for in a timely manner, but do not need the extensive services offered by hospital emergency departments or the long-term follow-up provided by primary care physicians.

Five Star Urgent Care has the capacity to treat an array of non-life threatening medical needs, including sprains, fractures, burns, lacerations, rashes, bronchitis, and pneumonia. We have x-rays on-site to allow us to better evaluate your injury.  We also have on-site, point-of-care lab testing.  This allows us to perform a variety of tests while you wait, from a urinalysis for symptoms of a urinary tract infection (UTI) to a rapid strep test to ensure your sore throat is not strep throat.

Why chose an urgent care center? Urgent care centers offer convenience and value. There are times in which patients need timely evaluation by a physician, but are unable to get an appointment with their primary care doctor. Five Star Urgent Care provides access to the affordable medical care you need, helping you avoid an unnecessary trip to an ER or until you are able to see your doctor.  At Five Star Urgent Care, we understand the importance of continuity of care and your long-term relationship with your primary care doctor.  We send a report of your visit to your doctor.  If you do not have a physician, we can help you to establish with a primary care provider. Urgent care centers operate on a walk-in basis, making care accessible and convenient.

While patients may also walk into an emergency room, the time spent waiting for care surpasses the time spent waiting at an urgent care facility. On average in the U.S., patients are spending just over 4 hours during a visit to the ER, with nearly an hour of that time being spent in the waiting room. Compare that with Five Star Urgent Care, where our patients are in and out, on average, in less than 40 minutes.  We even post our average monthly total visit time on our website.

Lastly, the difference between costs of an ER versus urgent care is significant. The average cost of an ER visit is 4-5 times that of an urgent care visit.  If you have an insurance plan with a deductible, this can lead to hundreds of dollars of additional costs.  At Five Star Urgent Care, our average co-pay is much less than an ER copay.  Some ER copays cost more than the total cost of our visit.  Rates are affordable for those without insurance.

For non-emergent, acute injuries and ailments, urgent care centers can provide the quality care you need without the needless waiting or unnecessary costs imposed by emergency rooms. The Five Star staff would like to answer any additional questions you may have about the advantages of urgent care – drop us a line at any time.