Urgent Care Centers vs. the ER: Patients are Confused

Almost three-quarters (71 percent) of ER doctors who responded to a survey said they treat patients every day who come to the ER after first seeking help at urgent care centers. Over 2,800 members of the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) participated in the survey, which was published this week.

Sixty-five percent of the respondents indicated that patients are redirected to the ER due to the lack of needed equipment at urgent care centers or due to limited staffing. Ninety percent of the ER physicians said the top reason that patients were being redirected was due to the fact that the patient’s medical condition was more serious than could be treated at an urgent care center.

Many urgent care centers are being marketed as substitutes for emergency care, however they are often more suited to address common medical problems, such as sprains or minor cuts that require stitches.

Other results of the survey include the following:

>> 86% of participants said at least one urgent care center operates within 10 miles of their emergency department; 76% said there was more than one.

>> 21% reported a decline in emergency visits while 16% reported an increase in ER visits.

>> 51% said urgent care centers will pull patients from both ER care and primary care, while 22% said that urgent care centers will pull more patients from primary care.

>> 90% reported that patients were unable to determine whether they should seek medical care at a hospital emergency department or an urgent care center.

You can download the 28-page report via the link listed at the bottom of the ACEP news release at: http://newsroom.acep.org/2014-12-08-urgent-care-or-er-for-holiday-injuries-new-poll-says-some-patients-get-it-wrong
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