Have you ever wondered what the difference is between the Urgent Care, and an Emergency Room? Without getting into the technicalities of the differences between the two, it’s important to understand when it’s appropriate to go the Emergency Room, and when the Urgent Care is a better choice if it’s available.
Dr. Ian Tullberg, the Urgent Care Medical Director with UCHealth Memorial say's there are several advantages to visiting an Urgent Care when you have certain medical needs.
"There is a huge convenience factor (to Urgent Care). There are many primary care doctors out there, but in this (Colorado Springs) area there are a lot of urgent cares out there. Usually it's (Urgent Care) is a little more convenient. Also, if you just don't like your doctor unfortunately there are a lot of great doctors out there, but sometimes it's just personality issue so you may want to scope out what else is out there. We are also available (most times). Emergency rooms are open 24/7, and most urgent cares are open 8am to 8pm so if you get a cut on your finger and your doctor's not open to take care of that, it's a great time to go in (to Urgent Care)."
If your after hours choices are between the Emergency Room and the Urgent Care, Dr. Tullberg says consider the cost difference.
"It's (Urgent Care) far less expensive than the Emergency Room. If you look at a regular co-pay for some it’s $250 at the E.R. versus $25 to $40 to $50 on average at Urgent Care. The price of Urgent Care versus a Primary Care Doctor, the primary care is less, but when I was in primary care I was scheduled out 6 weeks, so if you have a cold, a sinus infection or bronchitis you may not want to wait 6 weeks to get in.”
Also Dr. Tullberg cautions, “Emergency Rooms mean just that, emergencies. A sore throat is not an emergency, even at 2 am. Try to save those visits (to the doctor) for the next day and go to Urgent Care or get in with your primary care (doctor). Emergency Rooms across the country are inundated with folks that while it might seem like an emergency, really think about it because some people with a true emergency may have to wait longer because your being seen with something you could have seen a regular doctor for the next day."
Your primary care doctor should always be your go to choice, and should still be seen for annual exams and testing but in some cases the Urgent Care can be a great option. If you have any questions visit with your doctor about your health needs and care options.