It’s an understandable concern. When you or a loved one have an accident or suddenly fall ill, you want to feel confident that you’ll get the best treatment as fast as possible. Treatment that’s not only as modern as it can be, but that’s given with care and consideration by skilled, sympathetic staff.
If your knowledge of Emergency Rooms (ERs) is scant, you’re forgiven for thinking the hospital emergency department is the best place to go. After all, it’s where generations before you went whenever there was a medical emergency.
However, emergency rooms are not simply an add-on to the facilities available in hospitals. They’re a vital cog in the community wheel, treating everything from minor injuries to critical conditions. And they often do so in a more timely manner than hospitals, using the latest technology and highly trained, professional staff.
In short, freestanding emergency rooms are state licensed facilities that fulfill all the equipment requirements of hospital emergency departments. They often work in conjunction with local hospitals, and there are over 400 across the US operating 24/7 with full imaging and laboratory capabilities.
Care and Treatment Facilities
ER doctors are Board Certified in Emergency Medicine (ABEM) and have completed full residencies. They’re trained to treat both adult and pediatric patients and many hold staffing privileges in hospital emergency departments.
Far from being urgent care centers or clinics, freestanding emergency rooms are better seen as standalone hospital ERs. The main difference between an Emergency Room and a hospital is that the emergency room doesn’t have wards of in-patients to treat. Patients who need extended care are referred to hospitals. ERs do, however, offer a full and comprehensive range of care in those times when you need treatment or help immediately.
For instance, you may need:
- CT Scans: Producing 3D images of structures inside the body, CT (or CAT) scans provide detailed information about the soft tissues, blood vessels or the brain using x-rays. They can quickly identify organ damage, bone injuries or damage to liver, kidneys or spleen. The results are analyzed immediately in-house by a radiologist, so there’s little waiting time.
- Digital X-Ray Systems: Much faster than conventional film x-rays, digital images are viewed instantly and are easily enlarged. They use lower radiation than conventional x-ray machines.
- Ultrasonography: Allows quick viewing of internal organs and tendons or muscles, and is used to investigate many medical conditions or emergencies, such as the possible causes of abdominal pain. It’s also commonly used to check on the health and progress of unborn babies.
Emergency rooms operate COLA-certified labs to process blood samples, and screen for illnesses such as flu, RSV or strep throat as well as doing pregnancy testing.
Many emergency rooms have facilities to keep patients under observation, often in private rooms, and when necessary can offer direct admission to hospital. With direct admission, you don’t need to undergo yet more tests or evaluations should you be referred to the hospital. The transfer is as efficient and seamless as it can possibly be, with ambulance services available.
When needed, emergency rooms will administer IV fluids or other medications such as antibiotics or steroids. Computerized IV fluid pumps are used in pediatric cases to maintain total precision.
Types of Care
Freestanding emergency rooms treat a wide variety of illnesses and emergencies. Open round the clock, you can get treatment for just about any emergency or worrying condition, such as:
- Abdominal pain
- Dehydration, fever or heatstroke
- Pneumonia or flu
- Migraine or headache
- Sinus infections
- Skin rashes
- Vomiting or diarrhea
- Chest pains or bronchitis
- Dental emergencies
- Suicidal tendencies
And for sudden trauma or injury, the emergency room is fully equipped to deal with:
- Cuts and lacerations
- Animal or insect bites and stings
- Back pain or head injuries
- Removal of foreign bodies
They can also supply crutches, splints or slings if needed, and provide antibiotics or tetanus shots.
Modern and Convenient
While it’s the level and type of treatment available that is important, the surroundings in which you are treated can also make all the difference in the world to how you feel.
Clean, modern, efficient surroundings boost confidence and make you feel welcome and cared for. Freestanding emergency rooms are typically this kind of building, purpose built, comfortable and with patient care as the top priority. Further advantages that independent ERs have over hospital emergency departments are that they are in convenient locations and offer shorter wait times. You’ll typically wait for less than ten minutes to be seen and, should you need any tests, you’ll wait mere minutes for the results.
If you were ever in any doubt about whether you should visit the emergency room in a crisis, be assured these licensed, professional, treatment centers have all the knowledge and equipment needed to deal with any emergency.