A commonly asked question we hear is — what’s the difference between the services rendered at a standalone facility and those offered by traditional hospital-based emergency rooms? Additionally, a considerable concern of patients is whether there’s a difference in cost between freestanding facilities and hospital emergency rooms. It would seem that there is much incorrect information out there surrounding the subject. In any case, freestanding emergency rooms are somewhat new, so not knowing the difference is relatable. However, don’t worry, Altus Emergency Center’s helpful and friendly staff is here to set the record straight. After all, we pride ourselves on being experts in the field of healthcare, and we enjoy sharing our knowledge with the public. That said, let’s take a look at what differentiates freestanding ERs and hospital ERs.

Freestanding ER Defined

Texas health and human services define a freestanding healthcare facility as: “a facility that is structurally separate and distinct from a hospital and which receives an individual and provides emergency care.” Now, although this may seem obvious from the name, there are some stipulations regarding a freestanding facility in Texas. For example, to operate an emergency room independent of a hospital, it is necessary for our facility to receive licensure from the state of Texas. Much less, our freestanding emergency room must also follow strict guidelines and meet rigorous regulations to uphold a certain quality of care — just like an emergency room in a hospital. To put it differently, freestanding emergency rooms are upheld to the same standards as traditional hospital emergency rooms regarding patient care.

Comparing Hospital ERs and Freestanding ERs

Now that you’re aware that every Altus Emergency Center location is accredited, regulated, and licensed just like a hospital ER, you might be curious what marks the difference between the two.

Expected Wait Times

It is well known that hospital-based emergency rooms are in peril. Not only are they regularly overcrowded, but they are also incredibly shorthanded. Furthermore, hospital ERs depend on something known as triage, which is a process used to sort incoming patients based on the degree of their injury or the severity of their health-related condition. For instance, an individual who is displaying symptoms of a heart attack will receive 1st priority, whereas a patient suffering from a minor, hairline bone fracture may have to wait to receive medical treatment.

ProPublica, an organization that investigates emergency room wait times, published an article in February of 2018 which revealed the average hospital emergency room waiting time in Texas to be approximately 19 minutes. Additionally, people visiting hospital-based clinics in Texas often wait over 46 minutes to receive any medication for pain.

Comparatively, Altus Emergency Centers’ ER does not have wait times at all. Our friendly staff and experienced doctors are always ready to take patients who require immediate attention. This unbiased approach means our specialized emergency room doctors spend as much time as possible addressing your pressing health concerns. Additionally, wait times to receive specific diagnostic tests, like ultrasounds, EKGs, x-rays, and CT scans, are incredibly short — if there is a wait time at all.

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