December 12, 2016 – Urgent Care Impact


Anchor lead: Urgent care centers haven’t taken the heat off emergency departments, Elizabeth Tracey reports

Urgent care centers were heralded as the answer to emergency department overcrowding and lengthy delays in treatment for those who went there, but a recent study shows they really haven’t accomplished that goal at all.  Gabor Kelen, director of emergency medicine at Johns Hopkins, says several factors are involved.

Kelen: The vast majority of urgent cares, you need to pay to go there.  They’re not like EDs that have a federal mandate that you must establish whether an emergency exists or not. Overall, once you start putting medical facilities in a certain space there’s just a near insatiable demand. And people just simply show up, and those urgent cares often become feeders to the ED for their ultrasick patients who might actually have gone somewhere else.  :28

Kelen says good primary care is still likely to alleviate overcrowding in both EDs and urgent care centers. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.