You've probably noticed the abundance of walk-in medical clinics and ERs that have recently popped up all over North Texas. There seems to be one on every corner. While they may share convenient locations and extended hours, there are differences that you should be aware of before checking in. Choices include urgent care centers, freestanding emergency rooms and hospital-based emergency departments (HBEDs), also called off-campus ERs.
What are hospital-based emergency departments (HBEDs)?
Hospital-based emergency departments are off-campus ERs that are affiliated with hospitals — as opposed to freestanding ERs, which have no hospital affiliation. In short, HBEDs are an extension of a hospital's emergency room. How you will know: Look at the name of the ER to tell if it is affiliated with a larger health system or hospital. The name may contain the name of the health system or indicate that the ER is a department of the hospital.
Advantages of hospital-based emergency departments include:
- Board-certified physicians and specially trained staff: Patients are seen by board-certified and board-eligible emergency medicine physicians and emergency RNs. Often, they are the same physicians, nurses and other healthcare providers who practice at the primary ER location in the hospital.
- Full-service care: HBEDs are equipped to handle true medical emergencies such as life-threatening illnesses and injuries expertly and efficiently and with many of the same resources and personnel of a hospital ER, including laboratory techs, radiology/imaging CT and X-ray techs, patient access registrars, pharmacists, executive RN administrators and paramedics/ED techs.
- Pediatric expertise and training: Some HBEDs, such as those affiliated with Medical City Healthcare, feature specialized pediatric treatment rooms and nurses trained in pediatric care and certified in Emergency Nursing Pediatrics or Pediatric Advanced Life Support.
- Insurance acceptance: Because HBEDs operate as a department of a hospital, you can be sure that they accept the same insurance plans and adhere to all state and federal regulatory compliance requirements for acute care hospitals.
- Shorter wait times: Often, there is little or no wait time in an off-campus ER.
- Seamless transition of care: If patients need a higher level of care that can only be provided by a hospital, transferring from an HBED to its main hospital or a hospital within its network is seamless. It can also be less expensive than transferring from a freestanding ER because you won't be charged multiple facility fees.
- 24/7/365 service: HBEDs are always open, just like hospital ERs.
- Recognized by Medicare and Medicaid: Unlike freestanding ERs, HBEDs are recognized by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) as emergency departments.
What's the difference between hospital-based emergency departments and urgent care centers?
Urgent care centers, such as CareNow, offer extended hours and treatment for minor illnesses and injuries, family medicine, flu shots and other immunizations, annual check-ups and sports physicals. They can be a great option when your family doctor isn't available or when you don't have time to wait for an appointment.
Hospital-based emergency departments, just like their in-hospital emergency room counterparts, provide a higher level of emergency, lifesaving care 24/7 for more serious illnesses and injuries. Read In Case Of Emergency — ER vs. Urgent Care for a more comprehensive list of conditions treated by both.
Always call 911 for potentially life-threatening situations.
For fast, emergency help when you need it most, look to one of our many Medical City ER locations across North Texas. With average wait times posted online, if you do have an emergency, you can spend less time waiting and more time on the moments that matter most.
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