Urgency or Emergency? E.R.s Aren’t Always The Best Place To Seek Treatment

Picture this: You need a doctor, but your regular physician isn’t available. Maybe it’s a weekend, or the middle of the night. Maybe he or she is off for the week, taking a well-deserved vacation. Where do you go for medical attention?

In the past, the obvious solution has been to visit the Emergency Room. But that’s not always the best choice. Rising healthcare costs mean that the ER is simply too expensive for non-life-threatening concerns. Additionally, Emergency Rooms, as their name suggests, prioritize emergencies. For some ER patients, immediate treatment is as a matter of life or death. Unsurprisingly, then, if you show up with a twisted ankle or a stomach virus, or even a broken bone, you might find yourself stuck in the waiting room for a long time.

In a situation like that, you’re likely better served going to an Urgent Care Center. Urgent Cares treat more routine illnesses and injuries. They can take care of broken bones, administer stitches, and treat coughs and fevers. They don’t deal with life-threatening emergencies, so they don’t have to prioritize anyone, meaning that your wait time is much shorter. And they tend to be significantly cheaper. The average cost of a trip to an Urgent Care Center is $150; the average cost of a trip to the ER is $1354.

How do you know which to go to? Hospitals estimate that more than half the patients in the ER don’t need to be there. However, if you are severely injured, you need to go to the ER. If you need an ambulance, you need to go to the ER (ambulances don’t go to Urgent Cares.) And if you are having trouble breathing, or experiencing chest pain, sudden numbness, fainting, or seizures, go to the ER, as these things can be symptomatic of something serious.

Also, check with your insurance provider. While Emergency Rooms are generally cheaper, some insurance providers help pay for hospital visits but not visits to the Urgent Care. Or, they may only pay for Urgent Cares that are associated with a hospital. Urgent Cares are a great resource, but unfortunately, they do not work for all insurance plans.

Lastly, don’t get confused by free-standing ERs. These can seem like Urgent Cares, since they’re not part of a hospital complex. However, they function just like regular ERs, so people with non-emergency cases will be met with the same wait times and high costs that they would encounter at a regular hospital.

Patients & Hospitals Are Turning to Urgent Care Facilities For Aid

Extraordinary People Doing Extraordinary Things | Roger Stanmore MD, JDIf you’ve been paying any attention to the American health care system, you’ve probably noticed the rise in Urgent Care Centers.

These facilities offer medical services primarily to people who either cannot access their primary care physician or do not have one. Most patients are sick or injured, but not badly hurt enough to require emergency care. Commonly treated issues include fevers, stomach pains, diarrhea, and minor cuts and sprains. Many Urgent Care Centers also offer services such as vaccinations, blood tests, and STD testing.

Urgent Care Centers fill a much-needed niche. They help reduce wait times in Emergency Rooms, save patients money, and give ER doctors and nurses the space to focus on real emergencies. Many Urgent Care Centers began outside of the hospital system, seeking to offer a solution to overcrowded ERs. But just because Urgent Care Centers aren’t Emergency Rooms doesn’t mean that they can’t be affiliated with hospitals. In fact, many hospitals are now realizing it may be advantageous, both for themselves and for the patients, to team up with Urgent Cares.

Today there are about 7,100 Urgent Care Centers in the United States. Of those, 22% are owned by hospitals, and 15% more are in partnerships with a hospital. Hospitals can send patients to Urgent Care Centers for follow-up appointments. They can also advertise their affiliated Urgent Cares and encourage patients to visit Urgent Care Centers for non-emergencies.

From patient’s perspectives, Urgent Care Centers that are affiliated with hospitals are more likely to accept Medicare or offer financial aid, while also being considerably cheaper than regular hospitals. And while non-affiliated Urgent Cares usually allow patients to send any information gathered at the center to patients’ regular physicians, with affiliated Urgent Cares the sharing is usually more streamlined.

Also, in general, patients are also more willing to trust an Urgent Care associated with a hospital, especially if that hospital has a good reputation. Unaffiliated Urgent Cares may offer good services, but since the whole concept of Urgent Care Centers is still relatively new, affiliated centers have the advantage of familiarity.

It’s uncertain exactly what role Urgent Care Centers will play in the future. New technologies, such as self-diagnosis and self-check-up technologies, will likely be adopted by Urgent Cares even more quickly than they will by more traditional hospitals and independent physicians. And with the shifting climate surrounding American health care, much is still an unknown. Nonetheless, it’s becoming increasingly clear that Urgent Care facilities are here to stay.

Patients & Hospitals Are Turning to Urgent Care Facilities For Aid

Extraordinary People Doing Extraordinary Things | Roger Stanmore MD, JDIf you’ve been paying any attention to the American health care system, you’ve probably noticed the rise in Urgent Care Centers.

These facilities offer medical services primarily to people who either cannot access their primary care physician or do not have one. Most patients are sick or injured, but not badly hurt enough to require emergency care. Commonly treated issues include fevers, stomach pains, diarrhea, and minor cuts and sprains. Many Urgent Care Centers also offer services such as vaccinations, blood tests, and STD testing.

Urgent Care Centers fill a much-needed niche. They help reduce wait times in Emergency Rooms, save patients money, and give ER doctors and nurses the space to focus on real emergencies. Many Urgent Care Centers began outside of the hospital system, seeking to offer a solution to overcrowded ERs. But just because Urgent Care Centers aren’t Emergency Rooms doesn’t mean that they can’t be affiliated with hospitals. In fact, many hospitals are now realizing it may be advantageous, both for themselves and for the patients, to team up with Urgent Cares.

Today there are about 7,100 Urgent Care Centers in the United States. Of those, 22% are owned by hospitals, and 15% more are in partnerships with a hospital. Hospitals can send patients to Urgent Care Centers for follow-up appointments. They can also advertise their affiliated Urgent Cares and encourage patients to visit Urgent Care Centers for non-emergencies.

From patient’s perspectives, Urgent Care Centers that are affiliated with hospitals are more likely to accept Medicare or offer financial aid, while also being considerably cheaper than regular hospitals. And while non-affiliated Urgent Cares usually allow patients to send any information gathered at the center to patients’ regular physicians, with affiliated Urgent Cares the sharing is generally more streamlined.

Also, in general, patients are also more willing to trust an Urgent Care associated with a hospital, especially if that hospital has a good reputation. Unaffiliated Urgent Cares may offer excellent services, but since the whole concept of Urgent Care Centers is still relatively new, affiliated centers have the advantage of familiarity.

It’s uncertain exactly what role Urgent Care Centers will play in the future. New technologies, such as self-diagnosis and self-check-up technologies, will likely be adopted by Urgent Cares even more quickly than they will by more traditional hospitals and independent physicians. And with the shifting climate surrounding American health care, much is still an unknown. Nonetheless, it’s becoming increasingly clear that Urgent Care facilities are here to stay.

 

5 Tips for an Easier, More Affordable ER Visit

5 Tips for an Easier, More Affordable ER Visit | Roger Stanmore MD, JDEmergency rooms (also known as an accident & emergency departments or the ER) are medical treatment facilities that specialize in emergency medicine. At these facilities, patients can access care without an appointment, and by way of an ambulance, or through their own means. They’re equipped and staffed to provide prompt treatment of those suffering from illnesses or trauma, requiring immediate medical care.

Likely, if you’re visiting the emergency room, you’re dealing with a severe medical issue. Ahead of the visit, you need to assure that you’ll be able to answer all questions about your health insurance and medical history. There are also some other things you should contemplate, with regards to tests, procedures, affordability, and access. Below, find five tips to better your ER visit:

  1. Consider the fact that you may not need to visit the ER. While you may feel that you have an emergency on your hands, you’ll likely endure a long wait and a spend a lot of money to simply learn that an urgent care facility could meet your needs at a reduced cost for less than half the time. The ER is best meant to service those with serious head injuries, seizures, stroke heart attack, and other severe pain –while urgent care units are equipped to treat everything from broken bones, to stitches, to burns.
  2. Educate yourself about your health so that you can share that you can quickly share that information with the hospital. No matter who you see for your medical health needs, be sure that you give the medical professional enough information, so they can properly aid you. Have medical history on hand when you arrive at the ER. Having your health history handy means having a list of your previous hospital stays, the past or chronic illnesses/diseases, allergies, medications/supplements, health problems in your family, and vaccines you’ve received. Consider storing medical records on an app –meaning that it can be easily accessed.
  3. Learn your ER rights, and make sure no one is violating those rights. Insurance companies are required to cover your care if you visit the ER with an emergency medical condition, according to the Affordable Care Act. There’s no need for approval ahead of your visit if your symptoms are severe enough that you believe you may be in danger.
  4. Rather than racking up a substantial bill at the ER, learn if your doctor can run those tests for you. Tests conducted in a hospital will cost a great deal more than they will at other places. If it’s at all possible to safely put off scans and tests, then you should wait until you visit your doctor’s office, where they will be less costly.
  5. Read your ER bills. Upon receiving your ER bill, immediately scan it to make sure that you were charged in-network costs. It’s possible that you could have been visited by a specialist, technician, or another professional outside of your network during your stay. Nonetheless, most plans will cover all ER fees during the cases of a real emergency. However, providers will bill you directly for differences between what your plan pays and what they charge. Either way, you may want to follow up with your insurance company.

    Remember to know your rights, review your bills and insurance reports, and postpone non-essential tests.

Youth Soccer Athleticism, Increased Injuries & Emergency Room Services

Roger Stanmore, MD, JDAccording to reports, the number of U.S. children seeking emergency room care has soared in numbers in recent years, thanks to sports injuries. More precisely, soccer injuries. The trend has marked many young athletes, who often arrive with concussions and requiring urgent medical care.

After analyzing 25 years of data, it was revealed that there was a growing interest in popularity. Also, sports medicine experts and researchers believe that the rise in diagnoses can be attributed to the fact that the public is better educated about concussions and their possible risks. For this reason,  parents and coaches are currently more likely to seek out treatment via emergency rooms.

Between 2000 and 2014, there were nearly 3 million players, aged 7-17, who received emergency room treatment following a sports-related injury. The number of sports injuries coincide with soccer’s rising popularity, attracting children with a broad range of athletic ability, and that’s resulted in soccer-related injuries doubling from 106 per 10,000 players in 1990 to 220 per 10,000 players in 2013. Conclusively, data suggests that there’s an overall lean toward injury prevention and safety education when youth soccer is concerned. There are unfortunate consequences that could result from concussions, including issues with brain development and cognitive function.

Dr. Huiyun Xiang, the lead author and a researcher at the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, led the study that focused on the trend. Published on Monday, September 12th in Pediatrics, the report shows that the rates of soccer-related injuries rank second behind football among youth sports. The greater the number of football-related concussions, the greater the number of ER visits for boys. When girls are concerned, soccer is the leading sport resulting in concussions.

While most players aren’t hospitalized, the most common injuries are fractures and sprains caused by getting hit by the ball, head collisions, or by falling. Swelling concerns over soccer-related injuries has encouraged the U.S. Soccer Federation to implement restrictions, which includes banning children aged 10 years and younger.  There are proper techniques for avoiding injury while playing soccer, such as tensing neck muscles. Children, particularly those who aren’t very athletic, should work to build adequate strength for playing soccer.
The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research raised deeper questions about programming plyometrics for athletes.

9 Alternatives to the Emergency Room: Ways to Pursue Emergency, Urgent Care When You’re Uninsured

CCBRT_Disability_Hospital_waiting_room_1_(10679012155)When you’re injured, suffering, or hurt, the last thing you want to worry about is being confronted with questions concerning your insurance carrier –particularly when you aren’t insured.

It’s possible that you’re one of the millions of U.S. residents who is without health insurance, which challenges overall life quality and healthy. Often, one’s financial situation determines their health, because if someone feels that they can’t afford a physician, they’re more likely to tolerate long term pain or suffering caused by injuries or accidents. Postponing medical attention is an unfortunate reality for millennials, the elderly, and many others in the U.S., who consequently lose their lives. Many are totally unaware that uninsured individuals have choices beyond the emergency room, which is far more expensive that urgent care facilities or a primary care physician.

There are numerous options for those fearful of receiving an astronomical bill –even free options available to those without insurance. These resources are available to the public, accessible by all of those who need it.

Primary Care Physicians

While doctor’s offices welcome insurance coverage, they also accept cash. Actually, medical facilities frequently prefer dealing with cash over insurance claims. Also, it’s advisable to inquire about a sliding scale or discount prior to services, and getting that in writing by a facility supervisor or a doctor. By simply asking questions and being persistent, you’ll be surprised by how far it can get you.

Direct Primary Care Providers

Uninsured patients can enlist the services of a direct primary care provider, which is an option that’s affordable and convenient. It’s a fact that some individuals even choose to reduce traditional healthcare coverage in favor of a direct primary care provider plan. A flat fee is paid each month, and that membership enables access to all levels of primary and preventative care. Monthly fees vary by doctor, with plans as low as $49.

Urgent Care Facilities

Strip malls and unforeseen locations are seeing urgent care facilities spring up. Urgent care prices are competitive with regular physician visits, and the hours for urgent care clinics tend to extend far beyond normal business hours. Urgent care physicians are able to deliver non-emergency care at a lower fee during the weekend hours and during the evening. Also, waits tend to be shorter and the staff tends to be more attentive. Urgent care facilities are ideal locations for those want to opt for care that’s more convenient and more accessible than emergency rooms. Depending on the office, you may want to call ahead.

Walk-in Clinics

Walk-in clinics are an incredible medical care option, particularly for those without insurance. These are preferred by locals, travelers, the underinsured, and the uninsured. Certified practitioners usually work in these walk-in clinics, and walk-in clinics are often placed at the rear of pharmacies and grocery stores. They’re equipped to treat UTIs, strep, and other things involving labs. Walk-in clinic visits tend to be priced at half that of regular doctor visits.

Free Clinics

There are health care facilities known as free clinics, which offers services economically disadvantaged individuals for nominal costs or for free. The care is provided to those with limited income, no insurance, and without legal status. These clinics often charge nominal fees to those deemed able to pay their fees, while offering services to the underinsured, those with limited coverage, and those with insurance policies that include high deductibles. Routine illnesses or injuries, long-term chronic conditions, medical testing, women’s health care, dental care, and prescription drug assistance can be treated at free clinics. There are free clinics located in California, Michigan, Virginia, California, Kentucky, Idaho, and New York.

On-Campus Clinics

The Affordable Care Act has made it so that young people can stay on their parent’s plan until they are 26. For those students who belong to uninsured parents, they can still access on-campus clinics, which doesn’t have access to sophisticated diagnostic testing or equipment, but can be sufficient in a pinch. Also, it’s low-cost or free service.

Community Clinics

Community clinics offer prenatal care, primary care, vaccines, prenatal care, and specialist services, and they are ideal outfits for those with low levels of income. Cost is normally determined by an income-based sliding scale.

Health Screenings

Low-cost and free health screenings are available throughout the nation. Doctor’s offices, hospitals, and clinics hold public health screenings throughout the year. They screen for breast cancer, diabetes, and cholesterol. These screening raise awareness around a disease that threatens communities. Facilities also hold day-long screening events.

Counselors/Therapists

Free, low-cost, and sliding-scale mental health clinics provide counseling and therapy to treat substance abuse and depression. Stand-alone offices typically accept cash patients, and these non-profit care facilities are frequently able to bridge gaps in healthcare, particularly for those who are pregnant, disabled, or have a chronic disease. For government-funded programs, patients are expected to meet certain income requirements.

Those without a clear understanding of what care and clinics are available to them will fail to find the help that they require. For that reason, it’s important that there are conversations around resources that are made available to the public.

Urgent Care or the Emergency Room, Which One Should You Visit?

16288-a-female-doctor-examining-a-patient-pvStrangely enough, there are still large populations of people within the U.S. who are totally unaware of the presence of urgent care facilities. Not only that, but many individuals who are aware of urgent care facilities are totally oblivious to the differences between urgent care and the emergency room.

It’s not unusual to watch someone rush off to the emergency room after discovering a new episode of illness or after one has injured oneself. However, depending on the nature of the emergency, there are different places that individual should visit. For a long time, the emergency room was the only option the public in case of an emergency or when a primary care physician was unavailable. However, there’s a new option available to the public now, urgent care.

While primary care physicians and emergency departments are foundations for the healthcare system, urgent care center have unveiled their value by offering convenient, time-efficient and inexpensive service during evening hours and at night. Urgent care facilities are able to see and assist patients with non-life threatening conditions who require care. Emergency rooms were designed to treat critical conditions such as broken bones, deep gashes or similar emergencies. Urgent care facilities were designed to treat vital, but non-threatening health issues.

Emergency rooms will always remain essential, but being seen there will always be an obstacle because the emergency room is obliged to see everyone. By law, emergency rooms are tasked to care for everyone, 24-hours-a-day and seven days a week. You don’t have to have an emergency to be seen there, and there’s a mandate that requires them to evaluate all patients and ensure that they’re safe enough to go home. 

Emergency waiting rooms become crowded because people want access to that acute-care and the numerous services. The emergency room is definitely the place to go if you require a cardiologist or a neurosurgeon, but urgent care center are more appropriate when you seeking physicians and nurse practitioners who can care for less serious issues.

Because urgent care facilities don’t offer quite as many services as the emergency room, it’s more cost-effective. The effective, low-cost facilities accept most forms of major insurance and they offer affordable pricing to those without insurance. Urgent care facilities are equipped to care for an earache, sore throats, sinus infection pink eye, fever, stomach flu, colds and upper respiratory infections. Also, they’re able to offer treatment for broken and sprains, stitches, and labs, x-rays, IVs, and EKGs. However, you should seek out emergency care if one has complex health issues related to high blood pressure, diabetes and kidney issues, or a stroke or chest pains, patient’s are asked to visit their local emergency room.

If you don’t know if you should venture to the emergency room or the urgency room, consider your level of pain or discomfort, as well consider the services you may require. Also, if you choose to visit an urgent care facility, know that you don’t need to make an appointment, and you will likely be in and out within an hour. Also, physicians at urgent care facilities are able to prescribe medicine.