Stand-alone emergency rooms popping up

USA TODAY: When Lisa Boncler gashed the side of her head on the gate to her front yard, she immediately called her neighbor for a ride to the emergency room.

In this fast-growing Houston suburb, six ERs are just a short drive away. She chose Texas Emergency Care Center, a facility that feels like a Western lodge with its earth-toned brick walls, leather chairs and coffee bar. The eight-bed ER that opened last year has almost everything — except, that is, an attached hospital…

Many of the Houston facilities are owned by ER doctors. Like hospitals, the doctors see them as more profitable than urgent-care centers, which are outpatient clinics that treat most illnesses and injuries but are not designed to handle life-threatening conditions such as chest pain, difficulty breathing or severe bleeding. Because the freestanding emergency rooms can charge higher rates, even though they typically don’t treat heart attacks or trauma, or receive patients by ambulance, [Howard] Gershon says… (more)