How is a Freestanding Emergency Room Different from a Doctor’s Office, a Clinic, or an Urgent Care Center

How is a freestanding emergency room different from a doctor’s office, a clinic, or an urgent care center? Do you ever think about the differences between the above named facilities when seeking medical help?

Well, although the above mentioned medical facilities offer pretty much the same quality medical care, they have distinguishing factors that differentiate them and understanding these differences is very important. Understanding the differences between the facilities will help you make more informed decisions when you need a medical check-up, need emergency medical care or simply need to consult.

Here is a quick guide on a doctor’s office, a clinic, an urgent care center and a freestanding emergency room to help you understand the facility best suited for your medical situation;

Freestanding emergency room

Freestanding emergency rooms are medical emergency facilities which are structurally separate and distinct from a hospital but offer similar emergency care. Depending on the ownership of the freestanding emergency room, it can either be a hospital outpatient department or an independent emergency center.

Hospital outpatient departments

Hospital outpatient departments or satellite emergency departments as they are referred to as in some states, are owned and run by hospitals and medical centers but are structurally separated from the main hospital facility. These are emergency rooms which are built close to neighborhoods to bring emergency services closer to people-especially if the main hospital facilities are a quite far from the people who need the services.

Independent freestanding emergency centers

Independent freestanding emergency centers on the other hand, are run and owned by individuals or business groups. Such emergency rooms are not affiliated to any particular hospital and operate independently.

Freestanding emergency rooms operate 24/7 all year round and are staffed by qualified physicians and registered nurses to help administer quality care to patients. These emergency rooms have the required medical facilities as well and are capable of handling any emergency medical condition ranging from accidents, heart attacks, bone fractures to less serious conditions like headaches and stomachaches.

Doctor’s Office

The doctor’s office is the most basic medical facility run by a doctor or primary care physician. Typically, the physician offers the services from an office which is situated away from the hospital. With the help of a registered nurse and a couple of other medical practitioners, the primary care physician is able to provide basic medical care when you ill, hurt, in pain or just need some consultation.

The doctor’s office is just about adequately equipped and lacks the complex machinery and equipment that you would expect to find in a fully-fledged hospital. You can however expect simple tests, mammograms, physicals and other preventive health services. A doctor’s office typically operates from 8.00A.m to 6.00P.m and doesn’t operate on weekends and national holidays with the exception of special consultations and other doctor-patient arrangements.

Urgent care centers

Urgent care centers are alternatives to the doctor’s office. The thinking behind them was to provide easy and accessible health care to patients when they can reach their primary care physicians. They therefore operate past 6.00P.m and will be open during weekends and national holidays.

Urgent care centers are designed to provide care to patients suffering from illnesses and injuries that are not life-threatening per se. All they do therefore, is provide care for the patients who are suffering from mild conditions which cannot wait until their primary care physicians can treat them.

Most urgent care centers have at least one medical doctor or physician at all times to attend to the patients with the help of a registered nurse and other medical practitioners. In case the physician is away, an assistant physician fills in and can competently offer the required medical care. Urgent care centers can treat anything from broken bones to less serious invasive infections like flu and fever.


Just like doctors’ offices, clinics are set up in large commercial zones and specialize in minor injuries and illnesses like cold, sore throats, headaches and toothaches. The clinics are therefore sufficiently equipped to offer primary care and you don’t expect to find complicated medical equipment.

They are typically run by nurse practitioners and physician assistants although a few have medical physicians heading operations. Their opening and closing times normally coincide with those of the other retail stores within which the clinic is situated and they don’t operate past 6.00P.m.

Choosing the best medical facility for your condition

Think about the severity of your condition before settling on a medical facility. For less serious conditions, opt for a doctor’s office, a clinic or an urgent care center depending on their proximity to your workplace or home. As for serious medical emergencies, opt for freestanding emergency room.

Freestanding emergency rooms offer more comprehensive medical care and are capable of handling a lot of the medical emergencies reported in the United States. Here at Bellaire Emergency Room in Texas, we appreciate the significance of bring medical services closer to people and this is exactly what we are doing to the locals of Bellaire.

If you are in need of medical emergency services in and around Texas, give Bellaire Emergency Room a call or visit our facility near Galleria and we will gladly offer the medical care you need.