Rising healthcare costs and overburdened emergency room services spurred the development of alternative options for health concerns requiring urgent attention but are not life-threatening. Cigna Urgent Care is an example of these options.
The primary differences between emergency room (ER) and urgent care involve medical services offered and conditions treated. Unclear concerns should default to an ER visit, however knowing when urgent medical care is a better choice will save time and money.
Urgent v. Emergency
At Cigna Urgent Care, we can address concerns regarding minor injuries, respiratory infections, ear infections, and other conditions which are not life-threatening but will be very uncomfortable if left to wait until a regular doctor’s office is open the next day. For example, no one wants to put off treatment for a urinary tract infection for longer than necessary. We can address that in urgent care so the patient does not need to suffer too long.
However, there are some circumstances when urgent care should be bypassed for emergency medical care. Loss of consciousness, uncontrolled bleeding, chest pain, sudden limb numbness, sudden slurred speech, severe burns, or inability to breath require an ER visit or a 911 call.
After Hours Services
In addition to providing care for urgent medical conditions, urgent medical care also acts as an after-hours doctor’s office. Cigna Urgent Care centers are open evenings, weekends, holidays, and will provide services only on a walk-in basis. As it is not nearly as frantic as an ER, waits are often shorter in urgent care centers.
Offices are equipped more like a general practice than an ER. Services offered include x-rays, labs, electrocardiograms, and other diagnostic tests. Cigna Urgent Care also offers specialized eye care services, an in-house pharmacy, and on-call specialists. The purpose is to provide enough for basic services for diagnosing and treating less-threatening illnesses and injuries.
ERs are more expensive due to resources available. ER staff provides exams, x-rays, and lab tests as well as MRI’s, CT scans, and surgery services with the latest technology available. Unlike urgent medical care centers, which have specific hours, ERs are staffed 24 hours a day.
Cigna Urgent Care facilities may be open as late as 8:00 PM or midnight.
We offer after-hours medical advice and guidance if you are unsure of whether a condition requires medical attention and if so, where to report for a medical condition. Staffed with registered nurses, after-hours call centers offer medical advice or direction to an appropriate care facility. However, if facing a medical emergency, do not hesitate to call 911 or report to the nearest ER.