New Study Reveals Lower Hospital Admission Rates at Freestanding Emergency Departments

A new study published in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine revealed a 20% lower hospital admission rate for patients receiving comparable diagnoses at freestanding emergency departments (FSEDs) like GTEC compared to traditional hospital-based emergency departments (HBEDs). This is significant because hospital admissions are extremely costly and have often been referred to as “the most expensive decision in US healthcare.”

About the Study

The study was a retrospective analysis of 3,230 patients in hospital-based emergency departments compared to those at freestanding emergency departments all of whom were diagnosed with one of the following health concerns: chest pain, congestive heart failure (CHF), asthma, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The study was conducted to determine the effect that freestanding emergency departments have on healthcare costs. There was a perception that FSEDs might increase healthcare costs; however, the results of the study indicated that there was a 20% lower admission rate at FSEDs for chest pain, COPD, asthma, and CHF without a compromise in the quality of care.

About Freestanding Emergency Departments

Freestanding emergency departments may operate as part of a hospital system or they might be unaffiliated with a hospital system. Unaffiliated centers are typically referred to as Independent Freestanding Emergency Centers/Departments (IFECs) and these facilities are for-profit entities that are owned and operated independently of a hospital center. IFECs are not bound by the same federal emergency department regulations as hospital-based emergency departments and they do not have to comply with The Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA). However, many IFECs choose to voluntarily comply with EMTALA. It is estimated that there are over 360 FSEDs in operation across the US.

Possible Explanations for Lower Hospital Admission Rates at FSEDs

The study showed that patients at traditional hospital-based emergency departments had a 20% higher hospital admission rate than patients presenting with comparable symptoms at freestanding emergency departments, thus potentially exposing these patients to the higher healthcare costs associated with hospital admissions. So why are hospital admission rates lower at FSEDs if the quality of care is comparable and the patients are presenting with similar diagnoses?

The study did not directly investigate the cause of its findings; however, the study authors speculated that at busy traditional hospital-based emergency departments the physicians are often under higher pressure to “turn beds quickly.” This is because wait times at traditional ERs are notoriously long and it may be faster and easier to admit patients for further tests rather than take the time to come up with treatment options and run tests that do not require hospital admission. By contrast, freestanding emergency departments have much shorter wait times and this gives doctors more time to spend with patients. Since many freestanding emergency centers also feature comprehensive imaging and laboratory facilities, they are also able to conduct the tests needed quickly on the spot without hospital admission.

A separate study conducted by one of the authors showed that for an unnamed major health insurance provider in Texas, the prices paid at traditional hospital-based emergency departments were nearly identical to those paid in freestanding emergency centers. Thus the major deciding factor for patients was the convenience and service provided at FSEDs.

GTEC Provides Patients the Gold Standard in Emergency Care

GTEC is proud to provide patients with superior quality of care. When our patients do need to be admitted to the hospital, we can transfer them directly, skipping the long wait times at the ER and ensuring that patients get the care they need quickly and efficiently.

Golden Triangle Emergency Center’s goal is always to provide the resources, including health information our community needs to stay safe and healthy. However, when sickness or injuries do strike, Golden Triangle Emergency Center is there 24/7, 365 days a year with gold standard in emergency and industrial care.

Nutex Health, Inc supports you and your family’s health. You can depend on Golden Triangle Emergency Center or any one of our concierge-level, freestanding emergency facilities to deliver the emergency care you deserve, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.