6 Things You Should Know About Urgent Care vs ER in the Greater Orlando Area. By Ayodeji Otegbeye, MD
It’s Friday evening, and you’re heading home from a long day of work. You stop to get some groceries, then quickly swing over to pick up your youngest child from daycare. As you enter the daycare, you notice your son is a bit sluggish, is not as talkative, and is a bit irritable. The daycare attendant mentions that he may be coming down with a fever. You monitor his temperature throughout the night. Early the next morning, you realize that it is now 101˚F and he has a slight cough. You immediately begin to panic and think, “I need to go to the E.R.” As you are about to head through the door, your mother-in-law quickly mentions. ” What about that Night Lite place for kids we saw the other day while shopping at Publix.” You reply, “Yeah, but that’s an urgent care, and Josh might have the flu. Plus, it’s Saturday, and I doubt they’re open.” You head over to your nearest Emergency Department (E.R.), and there’s an incredibly long wait. With so many medical options now available for patients, it can be hard to distinguish which one to visit based on your medical needs. So, we wanted to share with you six differences between an Urgent Care Clinic vs. the Emergency Room that will help you to make a more informed decision the next time you or your little one becomes ill.
How Do They Match Up
First things first, you should know the difference between the two by their definitions. Urgent Care or Acute Care Clinics are walk-in clinics that are designed for after-hours ambulatory care. Patients are served on a first-come, first-served basis, and scheduled same-day visits may be offered. Urgent Cares have multiple exam rooms that are staffed by nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and medical assistants. Most Urgent Cares have a full-time, on-site licensed physician. Urgent care clinics such as Night Lite Pediatrics fill patients’ needs when your child’s Pediatric doctors office is closed or booked out, especially for urgent health needs that do not require an emergency room visit. Emergency Rooms on the other hand, is a hospital area or free-standing building equipped and staffed for the prompt treatment of acute illness, trauma, or other medical emergencies. Emergency rooms have several exam rooms and have access to extensive diagnostic testing (CT Scan, Ultrasound, Fluoroscopy, etc.) and sub-specialist support.
Wait Times Are Different
Urgent Care wait times for walk-in patients average 15-45 minutes. At an Emergency Room, the wait time to see a provider can be up to two hours or more. Note, the E.R. is for severe emergencies, so patients that come in that are in dire need of medical care are usually seen first, therefore, those with minor or even moderate illnesses may have a wait time that is much longer than average.
How Much Will I Save
Typically, if you have insurance, you’ll notice that your co-pay for an Emergency Room visit is more than an Urgent Care. Not only do Urgent Cares have a smaller co-pay, but you can also save money if you do not have insurance. At Night Lite Pediatrics the starting self-pay rate for medical care is $160, and the maximum we charge for our medical services is $400 regardless of the amount of testing or treatment the patient needs. Note: Some urgent care centers are affiliates of major hospitals. Be sure to ask if they are billing you as an Urgent Care or as an Emergency Room. The cost of medical care at the Emergency Room can be substantially more for the same treatment. Emergency Room visits also may include multiple medical charges, which may not be covered by your insurance. The bottom line: An urgent care visit is substantially cheaper than an emergency room visit.
What Services Are Offered
Services can vary depending on the type of urgent care you visit but, in a nutshell. Urgent Care clinics serve more pressing injuries or illnesses that are not life-threatening. Urgent cares also offer higher-level diagnostic equipment such as x-ray, laboratory testing and phlebotomy. At Night Lite Pediatrics we provide services for higher acuity cases than most Urgent Care Centers. Some of these cases include:
- Pneumonia, Cellulitis or dehydration requiring intravenous or Intramuscular antibiotics or intravenous fluids.
- Moderate allergic reactions, anaphylaxis, and angioedema
- Abdominal pain
- Mild head injury such as concussions
- Expertise with younger children who are less than the age of 6 years.
Additional services at Night Lite Pediatrics for newborn to 21 years of age patients include:
- On-site lab and Radiology
- Eye Injuries
- Diarrhea & Vomiting
- Sprains, Broken Bones & Lacerations
- Fever, Ear, Nose & Throat Infections
- Asthma, Bronchitis & Respiratory Illnesses
- Chronic Illnesses: Diabetes, Kidney Disease, Glucose Deficiencies, Sickle Cell, and more.
- STD testing
Emergency Room visits are necessary when a patient is suffering from a life- or limb-threatening medical condition or severe wounds. If symptoms arise suddenly and you believe that a life is in jeopardy, call 9-1-1. ERs specialize in managing catastrophic illnesses and injuries such as:
- Signs of heart attacks, including chest pain
- Signs of stroke, like sudden onset of numbness in the arms or legs
- Severe shortness of breath
- Major life- or limb-threatening injuries
- Severe wounds and amputations
- Coughing up or vomiting blood
- Suicidal or homicidal feelings
Kid-Friendly Urgent Care
There are Urgent Care Clinics that cater to all age groups, and there are specialty urgent care clinics such as Night Lite Pediatrics that specialize in medical care just for children and adolescents. Night Lite Pediatrics goes one step further in that it is supervised by fellowship trained Pediatric Critical Care Specialists with 100 years of combined medical experience. Specialty facilities like ours are designed to be child-friendly and serve as an alternative to the emergency room for minor to moderately severe health issues. All our offices come equipped with medical devices that are suitable for newborns that are often not found in your family/all-purpose urgent care. Note: We do not perform school physicals, workman’s compensation evaluations or give routine immunizations at Night Lite Pediatrics.
Referrals and Processes
Emergency rooms have the capability of calling different specialists needed to care for the severely ill. At Night Lite Pediatrics, we have a good relationship with and access to many specialists including Orthopedic, Ear, Nose and Throat, Pediatric Surgery, etc. We can also facilitate early follow-up appointments with specialists. Night Lite Pediatrics has excellent relationships with hospitalist groups at the premier children’s hospitals in our coverage area. We can facilitate admissions for observation or full admission when needed without having the patient go through the time consuming and expensive experience in the Emergency Room. Dr. Ayodeji Otegbeye, better known as “Dr. O” is the President and Founder of Central Florida Pediatrics Intensive Care Specialists and Night Lite Pediatrics Urgent Care in Orlando, Florida, USA which developed a novel approach to care of children and adolescents in Central Florida. He is the Medical Director of Children’s Medical Services in the Central Florida Region (Orange, Seminole, Osceola and Brevard Counties) where he oversees the care of children with special health care needs and the Medical Director of Leesburg Regional Hospital Pediatric Hospitalist Program. Dr. Otegbeye completed his residency and fellowship at Cook County Hospital in Chicago, Illinois. He is board certified in Pediatrics, Internal Medicine and Pediatric Critical Care. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, member of the American College of Physicians and Society for Critical Care Medicine. He specializes in pediatric critical care with special skills and interest in pulmonary medicine.