• May 5, 2015

Considering Urgent Care vs. ER for Work-Related Injuries

Considering Urgent Care vs. ER for Work-Related Injuries

When your employee is injured on the job, whether on or off-site, you want to ensure they get treatment immediately. The question is which facility is best—the emergency room, an urgent care facility, the employee’s doctor? The answer depends largely on the type of injury the employee has sustained.
Many employers send patients to the emergency room, believing it’s the only option, when in many instances urgent care is the more appropriate choice. Using the ER for non-emergency situations creates a burden on emergency room staff members, who need to ensure that adequate resources are available for true, life-threatening emergencies.

Additionally, the ER is costly—patient bills for emergency room visits are three to ten times higher than bills from an urgent care center, according to Urgent Care Centers: An Overview, a report published in the American Journal of Clinical Medicine.
Occupational Injuries Are on the Decline
Thankfully, occupational injuries and illnesses have declined significantly over the past three decades—by 42 percent, in fact, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). This decline happened despite the fact that employment nearly doubled during that time period. Nevertheless, nearly half the occupational injurie are severe enough to separate employees from their work; in some cases, for significant periods of time.
Recognizing True Medical Emergencies
Here are warning signs of a medical emergency, according to the American College of Emergency Physicians:

  • Chest pain or pressure
  • Bleeding that will not stop
  • Deep lacerations
  • Choking
  • Fainting, dizziness, loss of consciousness
  • Breathing problems (difficulty breathing, shortness of breath)
  • Exposure to hazardous chemicals that can damage the lungs, skin, and eyes
  • Coughing up or vomiting blood
  • Injury resulting from a vehicle accident, smoke inhalation, or burns
  • Back or neck injuries
  • Change in mental behavior (confusion, unusual behavior)
  • Severe or persistent vomiting
  • Pain in the upper abdomen, or pain that comes on suddenly
  • Seizures

Employers need to use their best judgement. If symptoms are impairing an employee’s functioning and there is any reason to believe it’s a true emergency, the ER is the appropriate option. On the other hand, many conditions have overlapping symptoms. For example, panic attacks can cause symptoms similar to a heart attack—shortness of breath, chest pain or discomfort, trembling or shaking, feeling unreal or detached from your surroundings. Again, use your best judgment, and never ignore an emergency.
Urgent Care: The Ideal ER Alternative
In many instances, employees injured on the job can be treated at an urgent care facility. Benefits of using an urgent care facility for non-emergency injuries include:

  • Much shorter wait times than the ER
  • Patients are seen on a walk-in basis
  • Treatment at urgent care centers is much less expensive than at the ER
  • Urgent care centers are generally open seven days a week, after normal business hours, and on holidays
  • Urgent care facilities generally accept PPO insurance, and some accept HMO plans, Medicare, and Medicaid
  • Insurance companies are receptive to urgent care facilities

Urgent Care Statistics
There are thousands of urgent care facilities across the U.S., making urgent care an excellent alternative to the ER, clinics, and doctor’s offices. The average urgent care wait time is 15 minutes, and the average cost of an urgent care visit is $200. Contrast this with the emergency room, which has an average cost of $1,200 per visit and an average wait time of 3.3 hours.
What Conditions Do Urgent Care Facilities Treat?
Urgent care centers treat a broad variety of conditions, and many facilities have diagnostic equipment on-site, such as X-ray machines and phlebotomy (blood-drawing) equipment.

Contact Xpress Urgent Care today!

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