Emergency rooms offer a level of emergency medical care that isn’t available in urgent care centers. They offer more comprehensive treatment options, and can help save your life after a severe injury or in life-threatening conditions. However, most emergency rooms are actually emergency departments, with the benefit of a full staff of specialists and technicians that work together to provide the best possible level of care.
Standalone emergency rooms without a hospital affiliation are not allowed in some states. In others, like Tennessee, standalone emergency rooms must have a hospital affiliation, and must obtain a Certificate of Need in order to operate. Texas, by allowing free-standing emergency rooms, has paved the way for a company called Adeptus to open 63 care centers so far, with plans to expand operations to other states by partnering with hospitals. Adeptus stands to make a great deal of money for their efforts, but the cost of their efforts may be in lives lost instead of dollars spent.
Standalone emergency rooms raise serious questions
In 2010, Texas became the first state in the union to allow emergency rooms to operate without being affiliated with a hospital. This move has proved somewhat controversial. Standalone emergency rooms don’t have to meet the same requirements as hospitals, and may eventually cut into hospitals profits and force shutdowns.
In a normal hospital, if a patient is admitted because of an accident and it is determined that further intensive treatment like surgery is required, the patient is simply wheeled to the appropriate department. With standalone ERs, the level of care available may not be sufficient, and patients can lose valuable treatment time during transportation to a full facility. There are concerns about liability and the chain of events if a patient dies during transport or after unsuccessful treatment because too much time has elapsed.
Some believe that free-standing emergency rooms can help provide access to emergency medicine in underserved or rural areas. However, a recent article in Modern Healthcare points out that these needs aren’t being met. Instead, free-standing emergency rooms are operating in wealthy areas and aiming services at those who can afford it rather than those in need.
Ultimately, the motivation for Adeptus to continue to expand their business model is money, not need, and at the expense of providing an appropriate standard of care to emergency patients. We invite you to visit the Rocky McElhaney Law Firm online or in person at our offices in Nashville, Gallatin and Knoxville to learn more.