Orthopaedics, On-Call: Should I Visit Urgent Care or the ER?
We’ve all been there. It’s late at night, and you’ve rushed to the emergency room where you are placed last on the list. You’re in a crowded, noisy waiting room amidst heart conditions, strokes, uncontrollable coughing, and other ailments considered more catastrophic than yours. It is one scenario that’s all too common. While many had hoped the Affordable Care Act would have reduced ER wait times,- they appear to be worse than ever. A 2014 study done by The Centers for Disease Control reported that average total time in the ER was two hours. A director at one major hospital compared the balancing of patient needs to a “stock exchange,” – in that someone is always coming in with a direr problem than the last. Orthopedic injuries such as fractures, joint issues, and muscle strains don’t always make the cut.
During the 1970s, urgent care came on the scene, revolutionizing the healthcare landscape and offering a less burdensome alternative to the ER, without sacrificing the quality of doctors. According to the Urgent Care Association of America, there are currently 7,000 of these centers within these United States. Specialized centers are popping up for different types of medicine, including orthopaedic care. Unlike run-of-the-mill urgent care centers – which primarily treat colds, coughs, and minor cuts, facilities such as Colorado Springs Orthopedic Group’s Express Bone & Joint Injury Care offer on-the-spot bone and joint treatment by experts in the field of orthopaedics at a significantly lower cost than the ER.
The question is: how do you know when an orthopedic injury requires a trip to the ER, or to Express Bone & Joint Injury Care? Consider the severity of your injury. If you are suffering from a life-threatening problem, severe blood loss, deep lacerations, or a fracture with the bone visible – it’s best to head toward the ER. Most urgent care facilities don’t have the necessary tools to handle an injury of this magnitude. However, if you’ve suffered from a broken bone, joint injury, dislocation, or sports injury, visiting an orthopaedic urgent care can help you to cut out the middle man, allowing access to an expert right from the start. Oftentimes, this will save you both time and money.
The employees who work at these facilities typically have years of surgical as well as clinical diagnosis and treatment experience in orthopaedics. Obvious deformities of the elbow, knee, or ankle are better treated in the ER, as they may require more intense pain control than is available at an urgent care facility. Once you’ve been treated in an orthopedic care center, their staff will refer you to a specialist for ongoing follow-up treatments. One benefit of going to an urgent care center affiliated with a regular orthopaedic group, is that they will already be familiar with your condition.
Musculoskeletal injuries aren’t scheduled; and sometimes a sprain, strain, or fracture can leave you feeling helpless. Urgent care centers offer extended hours for people to accommodate before and after work schedules, and don’t require an appointment to be seen the same day. However, they aren’t open 24/7 like the ER is. In some cases, the inevitable occurs and time just isn’t on your side.
Thanks to the advent of Express Bone & Joint Injury Care, you no longer need to make the choice between lengthy visits at the ER, or waiting weeks for an appointment with that in-demand specialist. Whether it’s our society’s obsession with instant gratification, or simply a need in the market that has finally been met – the introduction of these specialized facilities is a welcome change. For more information, contact Colorado Springs Orthopedic Group Express Bone & Joint Injury Care at (719) 622-4550.