Unfortunately, despite your diligence and reinforcement of safety standards at work, on-the-job injuries are more than likely going to happen at some point. When an injury occurs, it is a good idea to have a protocol in place to ensure your employee gets the proper care in the timeliest manner. Part of this care process may be determining if your employee should go to the emergency room or an urgent care/occupational medical facility. The answer depends largely on the type of injury the employee has sustained. If your employee is facing a life-or-limb-threatening situation, take no chances and send him or her to the ER. However, if the accident results in a mild-to-moderate injury, which are common in industries that sustain high injury rates, an urgent care/occupational medical facility is the best option. At the end of this blog article, we’ve created both a list of moderate injuries and true emergency situations to help you determine how to decide.
Benefits and Disadvantages of the ER
Emergency Rooms serve a vital purpose in our country—they are designed to provide immediate care to patients in life-threatening situations. Doctors there follow a strict protocol to triage patients, which means they assign degrees of urgency to wounds or illnesses to decide the order of treatment of a large number of patients. Simply put, the more serious your injury, the sooner you are treated. This is the primary benefit of the ER. Conversely, if you are not exhibiting life-threatening conditions, it could be hours of waiting in pain before you are treated. In addition, it costs money for hospitals to support the equipment and staff required in the ER, so visits generally cost much more than those to an urgent care/occupational medicine clinic. Finally, using the ER for non-emergency situations creates a burden on emergency room staff members, who need to ensure that adequate resources are available for true, life-threatening emergencies.
The Urgent Care/Occupational Medical Facility Alternative
In many cases, employees injured on the job can be treated at an urgent care/occupational medical facility where the average wait time is 15 minutes and costs approximately $200. The average emergency room visit has an average wait time of over three hours and an average cost of $1,200. Additional benefits of urgent care/occupational medical facilities include the fact that patients are seen on a walk-in basis generally seven days a week, after normal business hours, and on holidays. Most of these facilities accept PPO insurance, and some accept HMO plans, Medicare, and Medicaid. In addition, staff members at occupational medical facilities are familiar with the importance of treating work-related injuries, the continuity of performing follow-up care, and understand the importance of Return-to-Work (RTW) programs and the process of completing the necessary DWC forms.
Determining When to Use ER vs. Urgent Care/Occupational Medical Facilities
When choosing ER or an urgent care/occupational medical facility, employers need to use their best judgement to ensure an employee gets the proper care. It is a good idea to have a written protocol in place so front-line supervisors and employees can make a quick determination of care. This is a basic list.
Go to an Urgent Care/Occupational Medical Facility for:
- Minor accidents and falls
- Sprains and strains
- Moderate back problems
- Cuts and lacerations
- Abrasions and contusions
- Minor broken bones, burns and eye injuries
Go to an Emergency Room for These True Medical Emergencies
- Chest pain or pressure
- Bleeding that will not stop
- Deep lacerations
- Fainting, dizziness, loss of consciousness
- Breathing problems (difficulty breathing, shortness of breath)
- Exposure to hazardous chemicals that can damage the lungs, skin, and eyes
- Coughing up or vomiting blood
- Injury resulting from a vehicle accident, smoke inhalation, or burns
- Back or neck injuries
- Change in mental behavior (confusion, unusual behavior)
- Severe or persistent vomiting
- Pain in the upper abdomen, or pain that comes on suddenly
Total Occupational Medicine
Total Occupational Medicine is here as an option for your non-emergency needs and more. Whether you are an employer or an employee, occupational medicine services provided in affiliation with an urgent care facility can help protect the safety, health and well-being of people all while making care delivery easier and more convenient. Total Occupational Medicine has been providing occupational medicine services in Baton Rouge and the surrounding area since 2003. Affiliated with Lake Urgent Care/Lake After Hours, we help minimize OSHA recordables, reduce average cost per case, and reduce lost time, which helps your bottom line without compromising quality patient care. We can partner directly with your business to develop a customized plan to meet the specific needs of your company and work with you to deliver those services. Total Occupational Medicine is conveniently located at 3333 Drusilla Lane near I-12 and is open from 7:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. In addition, we treat injuries and provide substance testing until 11:00 p.m. seven days a week at Lake After Hours Drusilla, conveniently located in the same complex. For more information, contact us at (225) 924-4460 or visit www.totaloccmed.com