Freestanding EDs Defend Care

January 3, 2017

Aldred-KEYE-010317Freestanding emergency centers, including ESP’s own Five Star ER, are continuing to educate patients amid confusing and sometimes inaccurate information promoted by detractors of this new model of care.

Although the facilities may outwardly appear similar to some urgent care facilities, freestanding EDs in Texas must abide by strict regulations regarding their signage and must post notices to patients to make sure they understand they are visiting an emergency room and will be charged accordingly.

A number of recent articles, including an opinion column penned in late December by a representative of the Texas Association of Business and published in the San Antonio Express-News, have claimed that freestanding EDs exploit patients and drive up health care costs.

Dr. Brian Aldred, medical director of Five Star ER, spoke with Austin’s KEYE-TV to set the record straight. In a news report that aired January 3, Aldred noted that freestanding EDs may actually be a more cost-effective choice. “You don’t need to pay for the extra part of the hospital that you don’t need,” Aldred said.

Five Star ER patients avoid long wait times and, in some cases, even avoid a hospital stay, which reduces the expense for consumers. “This is the model of care . . . that’s really just better for patients,” Aldred said.

Representatives of the health insurance industry claim that freestanding EDs charge ER prices for urgent care treatment, but Five Star ER and the Texas Association of Freestanding Emergency Centers asserted that freestanding EDs are not in business to bait-and-switch consumers. “Prudent layperson” laws allow patients who believe they have a medical emergency to receive emergency room treatment at in-network insurance rates, although some insurers have been reluctant to apply the standard to freestanding EDs.

Furthermore, Five Star ER’s chief complaints represent symptoms that often require emergency medical care, including:

  1. Abdominal Pain
  2. Cough/Upper Respiratory Infection Symptoms/Sore Throat
  3. Laceration/Puncture Wound
  4. Chest Pain/Chest Wall Pain
  5. Back or Flank Pain

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About Emergency Service Partners, L.P.

Founded in 1988, Emergency Service Partners, L.P. is a physician practice management group specializing in hospital emergency departments (EDs). The physician-owned and physician-managed partnership serves more than 35 EDs across Texas. In addition, ESP provides pulmonary, intensive care, sleep medicine, hospitalist, and ob/gyn hospitalist services in Central Texas. ESP owns and operates Five Star ER, a group of freestanding emergency centers in the Austin area.