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5 things to know about freestanding emergency departments

Freestanding emergency departments represent a rapidly growing alternative to the traditional hospital ED. As of December 2015, 32 states collectively maintain nearly 400 freestanding EDs, according to a Health Affairs report.

Here are 5 things to know about freestanding EDs.

1. Twenty-one states have regulations in place allowing freestanding EDs, while 29 states did not have any regulations pertaining to freestanding EDs. California has regulations in place prohibiting them.

2. State policies regarding freestanding EDs vary widely, with no standard requirements for location, staffing patterns or clinical capabilities.

3. Texas and Ohio have the greatest number of freestanding EDs.

4. About 69 percent, or 22 or the 32 states with freestanding EDs, require the facilities to be integrated with local emergency medical services through transport agreements with local ambulances and hospitals.

5. While the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act requires hospital-based EDs to care for all incoming patients regardless of their ability to pay, EMTALA provisions do not apply to independent, freestanding EDs.

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