For many people, urgent care facilities have proven to be a convenient alternative to emergency rooms. When urgent medical care is necessary, but it is not an emergency situation, there are urgent care providers available who can help. Unlike a family doctors office, an urgent facility is usually open on weekends, and open for extended hours during the week.
The designation of Certified Urgent Care Center was established by the Urgent Care Association of America in 2009. Today, there are many facilities that offer 24 hr urgent care. Hospital emergency rooms are the best option for a life threatening emergency, or for a severe illness or serious injury. However, urgent care centers can help with things like minor injuries, fevers, ear infections, stitches and many of them have the equipment to take x rays. Urgent care facilities are also a considerably less expensive alternative to emergency rooms. The average visit to an emergency room costs 1,500 dollars, while treatment at an urgent care usually averages less than 150 dollars.
Nearly two thirds of the urgent care centers are staffed with a combination of physicians, physicians assistants and nurse practitioners. Around 65 percent of the centers have at least one physician on the premises at all times. According to one study, nearly half of all adult emergency room patients were not sick enough to require hospitalization, but went to the ER because their regular physicians office was closed. Urgent care is convenient, affordable and can help to decrease the overcrowding of hospital emergency rooms.