The creation of freestanding emergency rooms stems from a simple idea: give patients quick, reliable care without forcing them to go to a hospital and potentially wait for hours to see a doctor. If a patient has an emergency, they can choose one of the many nearby freestanding ERs that are now populating Texas cities. These emergency rooms are equipped with the same amenities as any ER attached to a hospital, have a regular staff, and are open 24/7. With more and more freestanding ERs populating the roads of Texas, it should be no surprise to hear the state is the home to 50% of these ERs in the country and is leading the charge to instill legislation across the nation to not only provide more of these, but to hold them up to standard.
Standards and Practices
In 2010, the first freestanding ER license declared that a smaller, but well-equipped emergency room was on the same pedigree as an ER attached to a hospital. With standards set and met, a movement to create more of these buildings was set into motion.
Why would Texas push to create so many? With legislation passed, licenses issued, and freestanding ERs upholding standards, the state needed to create a way to provide fast and professional healthcare to his inhabitants. These standards truly separate these services from other similar forms of healthcare in other states. While Texas makes its freestanding emergency rooms meet the same requirements as any other ER, other states do not regulate or oversee the standards and practices of its clinics or ERs. Hospitals, quick care, and emergency rooms are all lumped together under the same umbrella.
Breaking Down Healthcare
The very existence of freestanding emergency departments breaks through the healthcare monopoly established by hospitals. The ERs are now a form of competition for hospitals, which means that they can lose patients to these smaller establishments. This forces hospitals to fight for attention, hoping to land more patients than its competition.
Pushing For Change
The Texas Association of Freestanding Emergency Centers (TAFEC) is making a massive push to put all ERs around the country under the same standard. The organization wants to see all emergency rooms undergo the same treatment, apply the same standards and practices, and ultimately, receive a license declaring the ability to treat injured patients. If other states rectify this ideal, freestanding ERs can become a commonplace for the sick and injured, and hospitals will no longer have a tight grip around the wallets of their patients.