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Well-informed media pundits are catching on to what urgent care insiders—among others—have been saying for some time now: freestanding emergency rooms may be able to provide necessary treatment in most situations, but overall are not contributing to efficient, appropriate patient care. One newspaper editorialist in Texas puts the question in very simple terms: “Are they good for patients?” Writing in the Dallas Morning News , Brett Berrett lays out his rationale for answering his own question:

  • “These slick and efficient facilities…claim the capabilities and services of full-service emergency rooms, guaranteeing treatment without the wait of a hospital-based emergency room…. Patients receive the convenience of an urgent care center, but they anticipate receiving the same quality of a hospital emergency service. Unfortunately…freestanding emergency rooms simply cannot provide the same level of emergency treatment as hospitals.
  • “Urgent care centers, or walk-in clinics, are usually open outside of regular business hours, including evenings and weekends. They are ideal for treating minor injuries, such as sprains, or illnesses like fever or sore throat. Emergency rooms—open 24/7—are the best place for treating severe or life-threatening conditions.
  • “A typical urgent care visit may cost $50. But relabel it as an emergency room visit, and your average charge inflates to more than $300.
  • “In many cases, these facilities stray far from the original intent to provide care in underserved areas and may even cost patients precious time for treatment in hospitals.”
Editorialist: Freestanding ERs May Be Hurting Patients