Preventing and Treating a Cold

7 Dec 2017 General Health

Preventing and Treating a Cold

A cold is an infection that attacks the upper respiratory system and is among the leading causes of patient’s regular visits to the doctor. Common cold attacks children under two years of age on an average of about six times a year and about two times a year for an adult. Symptoms include a cough, malaise, sore throat among others. A cold is preventable and also treatable. The methods include:

Ways of Prevention

Thorough Washing of Hands

Washing of hands should be carried out using warm water and soap after which you should thoroughly rinse your hands and dry them. This should be done for at least 20 seconds paying attention to the areas between the fingers and under the fingernails. In the absence of soap, hand sanitizers are an alternative. Hand washing helps because germs are mostly transported through the hands thus thorough hand washing helps get rid of illness-causing bacteria.

Regular Zinc Intake

Zinc is one of the trace elements required by the body for it to remain healthy. It is present in nuts, beans, and meat. It is assumed that zinc has got antiviral properties thus can inhibit the growth of viruses such as the cold virus.

Keep Surfaces Clean

Wiping of all surfaces that are frequently touched, using a cloth dampened with detergent is essential since some viruses live on surfaces for several days before dying thus could cause a cold to an individual who comes into contact with them.

Covering of the Mouth

Mouth covering occurs when sneezing or coughing thus preventing sending of germs into the air. Covering the mouth keeps the bacteria from coming into contact with other people and eventually infecting them. Though covering of the mouth is encouraged, the mouth should not be covered using your hands since viruses stick onto bare hands thus they get easily spread. While sneezing or coughing, you are encouraged to use a tissue then throw it away since they are active habitats of germs and bacteria. If no tissue is available, one should use the inside of their elbow.

Use of Probiotics

These are microorganisms that when consumed, they restore the beneficial bacteria into an individual’s digestive tract. They do not only help with the digestive system but also help in the busting of one’s immune system.

Ways of Treatment

There is no cure for a cold since a virus causes it. Treatment of a cold I aimed at directly relieving the signs and symptoms. The signs and symptoms relievers include:


This involves eating foods with low-fat content and taking those with high-fiber content. The meal should also be inclusive of a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables. Fruits help in the boosting of the immune system.

A cold could also result in loss of appetite thus one should not force themselves to eat if they have got no appetite. It is a common symptom

Cough syrups

Administration of cough syrups to children under the age of four is not encouraged because it is not a guarantee they are safe and beneficial to children. If given to a child who is over four years, you are recommended to follow label instructions. Also, medicines containing the same active ingredient such as antihistamine are not recommendable since their intake could lead to an accidental overdose.

Nasal Sprays

Nasal sprays are used by adults to unblock the nose. They are administered in spray or drop forms and are used for a maximum of five days. Excessive use can lead to rebound effects( more mucus and congestion). If in treating kids, the kids should not be less than six years of age.

Nasal sprays help ease nasal blowing. Nasal irrigation, on the other hand, is poured into one nostril and then let out through the other. Nasal irrigation washes away dried mucus facilitating more natural breathing comparing to breathing with a blocked nose.

Drinking a lot of Fluids

Fluids help in the thinning of mucus and breaking up congestion. If a body is without fluid, it results in fatigue and headaches caused by dehydration. The constant taking of fluids helps hydrate the body thus dehydration does not occur. One should avoid liquids such as alcohol, sodas containing caffeine and coffee because they result in body dehydration. Also, their avoidance allows for the free flow of mucus and also ease congestion.

Fluids in the body are lost as a result of sweating which is a common phenomenon associated with sweating. Fluid loss a could also be due to a running nose.

Taking Warm Drinks

Warm drinks help in easing sore throat and fatigue. Drinking them also results in retaining the body’s warmth. Recommended warm fluids include a mild broth, lemon tea, and non-caffeinated lemon water.

Though fever is uncomfortable, it is the bodies mechanism to kill a virus with the heat. As a result, blood circulates faster helping with the healing process. A fever may be an indication that a cold may not last long. Also, coughing is the way the body clears out thick mucus.

Freestanding Emergency Rooms Look to Expand in Texas

Freestanding Emergency Rooms Look to Expand in Texas

The occurrence of accidents necessitates the need for immediate medical care. While it is easy to choose the hospital you wish to visit sometimes, being involved in an accident strips down hospital identities. The primary goal of medics at an accident scene is to provide basic first aid and rush you to the nearest ER for further medical care.

This fact among others seeks to explain why free-standing emergency rooms look to expand in Texas. However, this does not in any way imply that accidents are more prone to occur in this state. Many lives have been saved with the help of the ERs in place as they can serve their patients promptly.

A fact is that the free-standing ERs are sprouting out like Texas Wildflowers. Most of the state regulatory standards approve of this setups. The facilities offer quick and efficient emergency care services without the need of going or spanning great distances looking for emergency care centers. Below are some of the vital aspects that have contributed to the drastic emergence of freestanding emergency rooms.

Closure of Hospitals in Rural and Underserved Areas

Unfortunately, hospitals in rural areas are closed down due to high operating costs. Also, free-standing emergency rooms with hospital affiliation showed no interest in making hospitals in such areas. The closure of some hospitals in rural regions has necessitated the intervention of freestanding emergency centers that will readily offer quality services to residents. ERs are also equipped to handle emergency situations hence an early detection of fatal conditions and immediate hospital transfers can be done.

Free Standing Emergency Rooms Target Market

The facilities have been accused of cherry-picking privately and well-insured patients. A significant fact is that most of these services have been set up closer to areas with people who are well off. Regions with people who have higher incomes as well as enjoy excellent insurance packages are the primary target. This way, they can give urgent care closer to these peoples’ homes. However, a simple fact is that most of the health plans are in support of their services despite several complains that the facilities are not able to substantiate their fees.

Ease of Putting up and Running Free Standing ERs

These ERs do not have to meet the rigorous procedures and requirements necessary for starting and running a hospital. Hospitals invest more in equipment as well as staffing before being considered operational. An apparent fact is the cost of running and maintain the two types of medical facilities is without a doubt incomparable. Freestanding ERs are quickly put up and managed since most of their patients can pay for the services offered.

Texas Offers a Ready Market

A harsh fact is that most of the free-standing ERs are meant to generate profits. Yes, it is true that majority of the autonomous ERs are looking to expand in Texas. Several studies indicated that Texas has roughly two hundred ERs of this kind. Most of the facilities are located within the urban area or as close as possible. Only twenty-two percent of these institutions were affiliated to hospitals while seventy-one percent comprised those with the pure intent of making a profit. However, despite all these, the facilities can provide emergency care especially in areas where these services are not easily accessible.

Efficient Services

The emergence of freestanding emergency rooms has given residents a chance to enjoy quick and efficient medical attention. The decrease in the number of hospitals available to the population had a consequential increase in queues in hospitals. Fortunately, patients with less severe conditions can visit ERs instead of crowding hospital rooms.

The laws in Texas seem to be in favor of the facilities as they can quickly offer 24/7 services that most of the urgent care or walk-in clinics cannot provide. Walk-in clinics and critical care facilities often deal with minor injuries such as fever and sprains. ERs, on the other hand, can deal with some surgical procedures as well as trauma. Market research done before the drastic rise in the number of the free-standing ERs indicated that Texas was in need of such facilities.

In conclusion, it is very costly to maintain a full-service hospital more so in a rural area. Emergency care is still necessary for such regions thus the expansion of the ER facilities. Rural areas emergencies are easily managed with the help of free-standing facilities as they can effectively treat and discharge patients with minor conditions. The long waits in hospitals have been seen to decrease as patients can easily acquire quality services. Also, the laws and policies in Texas allow free-standing ERs to operate as they have been observed to help numerous patients. Texas still has more room for the freestanding ERs to be set up as the law and market dynamics allow.

10 Differences: Urgent vs. Primary Care

8 Nov 2017 General Health

10 Differences: Urgent vs. Primary Care

Over the years the quality of healthcare services has been improved and continue to do so across the health sector. It has led to the creation of various medical options meant to provide patients with the healthcare that they need when and how they need it to be delivered. However, the presence of alternative healthcare services makes it confounding for some patients or their guardians to choose. One common differentiation mistake made by people in need of medical attention is the difference between urgent and primary medical care. Their distinct features render them useful for patients with differentiated medical needs. Here is a compilation of ten differences between critical and primary medical care to help you make a choice that will enable you to get the best medical care that you so deserve.

Nature of Medical Cases

Urgent care entails medical conditions that require immediate medical attention to prevent further severity or even death to the patient. Critical cases are usually unanticipated but usually prepared for by the relevant medical institutions. Incidents such as car accidents where there is severe bleeding, heart attacks, fresh gunshot wounds, savored body parts such as the nose or ear are some of the urgent medical cases that require a professional’s immediate attention mitigating their severity or prevent sudden death.

Primary care, on the other hand, entails medical conditions that are dealt with more systematically. These are the kind of cases that can take time to develop within your body but if left unchecked for a significant amount of time may prove to be fatal. Chronic illness such as; diabetes, cancer, hepatitis are some of the medical conditions that require primary care. Colds, the flu, coughs, infections, cuts, scratches, and bruises are also taken care of under primary care, unless they are at a higher level where the patient needs immediate medical attention.

2. Time Before Getting Treatment

Medical cases that call for fundamental care can wait, thus are characterized by doctor appointments at given intervals of the week, month or year. Urgent medical attention, however, is granted within the shortest available time of the patient’s arrival time at the medical institution.

3. Type of Medical Procedures

Given the distinct nature of medical cases between urgent and primary medical care, the procedures are bound to differ. For urgent care where most cases entail an endeavor to save a life or mitigate the risks of further physiological harm; the medical procedures may require surgery, CPR or even remedy shots considering the medical emergency. Whereas primary care involves processes such as flu shots, therapy, vaccinations, and drug prescriptions to mitigate stop or prevent the development of specific diseases or infections.

4. Follow Ups

Primary care entails the forming of a professional relationship between the client and their physician. That relationship is meant to ensure a consistent follow up on the patient’s medical progress with the aim of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Urgent care, on the other hand, is designed to be performed more hastily thus the relationship between the doctor and patient is relatively casual. And the patient’s health progress is checked up on during the period that they are within the medical institution until they are discharged.

5. Treatment Period

Urgent care compared to primary care is relatively short term, considering the cumulative amount of time taken from each type of medical care. Given that in critical care the aim is to deal with the medical condition at hand, whereas primary care deals with long-term, upcoming and potential medical issues that may affect a particular patient.

6. Schedule

Urgent care does not entail a specified program for treatment; patients are therefore admitted by merit of the urgency for which they need medical assistance. Primary care, however, involves scheduling of appointments with the physician within a given interval of days, weeks or months. The time range may vary based on factors such as age, medical condition among other things.

7. Visiting Hours

Urgent care and the institutions that provide it tend to experience extended working hours including weekends due to the unpredictability of a medical emergency. No one ever really knows when someone will get a heart attack or get involved in a fatal car accident. Primary care visits, on the other hand, are set on a schedule based on given intervals such as some days, weeks or months.

8. Medical History

Urgent care entails a more immediate medical procedure thus there is no time to go through a patient’s medical history. In a lot of cases the patient is not even known to the physician; therefore, the medical information used for urgent care is based on recent events. Whereas in primary care the medical history forms the basis of a client’s treatment plan.

9. Medical Approach

Primary care is characterized by tests and observation of given symptoms that are meant to help the physician make a diagnosis and later determine a treatment plan, which is procedural. Urgent care, on the other hand, requires a spontaneous diagnosis and treatment plan to avoid further physiological harm.

10. Health Promotion vs. Health Sustenance

Primary care is designed to ensure health promotion, which is why clients undergo regular checkups and follow up medical procedures. Urgent care, however, is meant to sustain one’s health and help prevent further physiological damage or demise.

Hopefully, the information from this article will help improve your approach to getting medical care. With the knowledge on the differences, you should have a picture of the local medical institution that will efficiently provide you or your loved ones with the appropriate healthcare when the need arises. In case you get an institution that efficiently provides both medical services such as the Bellaire ER, then good for you. Just be sure to visit the relevant wing of the medical center guided by your medical needs.

How to Find an Urgent Care with MRI

8 Nov 2017 General Health

How to Find an Urgent Care with MRI

Urgent care centers have experienced phenomenal growth in recent years. They offer quality services at affordable prices. While anyone with a severe injury should still visit an emergency room such as, most other cases such as lacerations can be taken care of at an urgent care facility. If you think you may need to use an MRI machine to treat your condition, here are a few tips for finding one with MRI equipment.

Check their website

If an urgent care center has MRI facilities, it will no doubt have it listed on its website. Go to the site and find the tab where they list their services. Not only will they tell you whether they offer MRI services, but they will also tell you about the equipment.

MRI machines have evolved a lot in recent years. Modern machines can do the work in just minutes and use less magnetism. It will keep you safe as well as save on time. Being exposed to too much magnetism is not safe for anyone.

Besides that, modern machines can give detailed looks into the internal organs. That way, a better diagnosis can be made about your condition. Thus, you will get the medical attention you need before the condition escalates.

Call the Urgent care center

Sometimes, the urgent care center may have just acquired the MRI equipment, and they may not have had an opportunity to list it on their site. In such an instance, a phone call can help you to know if they offer MRI services.

Take time and ask about the equipment they have. You want to be sure that the center has the latest technology installed at the facility. Most urgent care facilities are still quite young, and they use the newest equipment. However, you want to be sure this is so for the facility you visit.

Besides that, MRI equipment often requires some maintenance. It may happen that their equipment is currently undergoing some upgrades. As such, it may not be available for use on the day that you require it. A phone call can help to ensure that you avoid making an unnecessary trip to the urgent care facility.

Ask your friends

If you have friends who have been to an urgent care center recently, you can give them a call. During the call, ask them if the facility has MRI services. Besides that, you want to ask them about insurance coverage. It will help to keep costs down by reducing the out of pocket payments. Besides that, you want to be sure that any out of pocket payments you have to make are low. Most urgent care centers charge lower than ERs, but you still want to find the one with the lowest rate.

After getting feedback from a few of your friends, you can now decide which one to visit. As part of the feedback, ensure they tell you about the general quality of service they got. For instance, ask them how long it took to get the scan performed. You want to find a facility that takes the least amount of time.

Check into operational hours

The urgent care facility needs to be operating when you visit it. Thus, it is crucial for you to find out about their operational hours. For instance, some urgent cares do not run on public holidays or the weekends.

Besides that, you may find that MRI scans are only performed in specific instances. For example, some facilities may only perform MRI scans once a week and just at certain hours. If you require an MRI scan at midnight, you need to be sure there will be a technician present to perform the scan.

Read reviews about the center

If you perform an online search of the facility, you will find numerous reviews about it. Read the reviews and weigh the pros and cons of visiting the facility. You can also read some of the reviews questions about what they did not like about the facility. It will help you understand why it has so many positive or negative reviews.

For instance, maybe they charge too much, or it takes too long for you to see the doctor. If these are issues, which are of no concern to you, you can proceed to visit the facility and get the MRI scan performed.

Check the location

Another issue of concern when finding an urgent care center should be the location. If the facility is too far away, it will not matter how little they charge since you will have to incur a considerable fuel cost. Besides that, you will have spent a lot of time on the road. It may make it hard for you to get your place of work in good time. Always check the location before deciding on which urgent care center to visit.

What is Telemedicine?

What is Telemedicine?

The healthcare infrastructure is drastically changing, and one of the concepts that have emerged is telemedicine. Telemedicine is basically the use of information and telecommunication technology by healthcare professionals to diagnose and treat patients from another location. This concept was introduced to eliminate the distance barriers and make specialized health care services more accessible to the population. Bellaire ER gives more insight on Telemedicine.

History of Telemedicine

The Telemedicine concept was born when telecommunications technology came to be. Radio, telegraph and the telephone emerged late in the 19th century, but it was not until the early 20th century that the population started using these technologies widely. The concept was introduced in the field of medicine in the 1950s when some university medical centers and a few hospitals began sharing images and information using these systems. During the early stages of this concept, it was used to connect a doctor and a specialist working from different locations. It was a great way for people in the rural areas to access specialized medical services.

When the age of the internet came, telemedicine was revolutionized. The practice was characterized by profound changes like the proliferation of more advanced devices that were of offering better audio and imaging transmissions more effectively. Today, the field is constantly changing and at a much faster rate than ever before. With the advancement in technology comes more advanced equipment and more effectiveness in the field. In fact, telemedicine has grown to become an integral part of the US healthcare today.

The different ways Telemedicine can be used
The advancement in internet use has also changed how telemedicine is used. A simple connection to the internet can allow many patients in the remote areas to access to this type of medicine. There are three ways of connection that are used:

• Networked programs
Networked connections are basically used to link up health clinics in the remote places to the large healthcare facilities like the hospitals in the cities. At the moment, the United States has roughly 200 networked telemedicine programs that benefit over 3000 rural sites.

• Point-to-point connection
This type of connection links several small health centers in remote areas to one central health facility using high-speed internet. This type of connection allows small clinics or those that are understaffed to outsource medical care from other locations that are within the same system. This type of connection is particularly common with urgent care service, teleradiology and telepsychiatry.

• Monitoring Center Links
Monitoring center links are specifically used for remote patient monitoring. It works by creating a digital connection between the remote monitoring facility and the patient’s house allowing for the patient’s medical data to be measured at home and transmitted to the medical monitoring facility electronically. The links are usually in the form of SMS, telephone communication or internet. Monitoring Center Links are commonly used when monitoring cardiac, pulmonary or fetal medical data.

Types of Telemedicine

Real-time telehealth
Real-time telemedicine is also called synchronous medicine, and it is perhaps the first line of thinking when telemedicine is mentioned. Real-time telemedicine enables real-time interactions between that patient and the health professional via video and audio communication. The software is quite sophisticated as opposed compared to the video chat platforms people use. However, the concept is quite the same as the goal is for the patient and the health professional to communicate with each other.

Remote patient monitoring
Remote patient monitoring allows the medical practitioners to monitor the vital data of the patient from a distance. It is also called telemonitoring. The popularity of this type of telemedicine is quickly rising as more people realize the benefits of telemedicine on chronic care management. An example is a glucose tracker of a patient that is able to transmit the medical data of the patient with regard to their glucose level to the health official remotely.

Store-and-forward telemedicine solutions
This type of telemedicine, also known as asynchronous telemedicine, enables healthcare providers to forward the medical data of the patient from a different location. They offer a more sophisticated and more secure election platform that allows for a secure transmission of patient’s private data.

Pros of Telemedicine

1. Provides convenient and accessible medical care for patient
The idea of telemedicine is to make medical care accessible to more people particularly for those people in the rural areas. With telemedicine, typical geographical barriers are broken, and the healthcare delivery model becomes more convenient.

2. Cheaper health care costs
Telemedicine has the ability to slash the health care spending greatly by minimizing the need for unnecessary ER visits.

3. Establish better access to consultations from specialists
With telemedicine, health officials have a better platform to engage and consult with regards to the procedures for treating patients. As such, regardless of one’s location, they can access specialized treatments from the best specialists in particular fields.

4. Increased patient engagement
Telemedicine enables patients to connect with their doctors more frequently in a manner that is more convenient.

5. The patient care is also of much better quality given that access to specialized treatment is much easier.

Is Telemedicine Legal in Texas?

Is Telemedicine Legal in Texas?

Texas is one of the states in the US that has been in the limelight with regards to Telemedicine. Texas is known for having a huge segment of its population residing in the rural areas. Given the shortage of specialist in the medical sector, there had been a huge gap created with regard to access to specialized medical services for the rural population. What Bellaire ER and many other residents of this great state see as a step towards the right direction, the government has made changes in the legislation that paves way for telemedicine to bridge the gap that exists.

Telemedicine has been legal in Texas for years now but on a limited basis. For the last six years, telehealth providers have had a difficult time trying to cope with the legislation that initially existed. The emergency rules that were declared by Texas Medical Board required that there be a pre-existing relationship between the patient and the medical professional or a face-to-face communication medium in order to provide telemedicine services. The enactment of these new rules was met with great opposition from telehealth providers who went to court.

The court process has been ongoing for years with the telehealth companies having several victories that in the court against the Texas Medical Board. Sometime in 2016, the board agreed that they would promote legislation in the state parliament that would remove the many hurdles the previous rules created in the path of telemedicine. The legislation to be sponsored would permit telehealth practices, including asynchronous communication in the absence of telehealth presenters and live interactive encounters.

The negotiations resulted in the birth of SB 1107. The bill detailed the following:

A licensed Texas physician is allowed to establish a physician-patient relationship that is valid without having to conduct an in-person exam or the patient having to be in the presence of another health care provider. The bill allowed the physician to use telehealth exclusively in their interactions with their patients using real-time audio and/or visual platforms as well as asynchronous platforms.

The bill required the physicians rendering telehealth to provide their patients with close guidance and the appropriate follow-up care after they have been treated. Also, the physician must seek consent from the patient’s primary care physician – if they have one – and a report of the encounter should be sent to the primary care physician within a period not exceeding three days.

Medical prescriptions are part of treatment and the bill provided room for that. The Texas Medical Board, the Texas Board of Pharmacy and the Texas Board of Nursing are the ones charged with the mandate of establishing the specific rules that would validate prescriptions that are issued through this kind of physician-patient encounter.

The standards of care that govern in-person medical services were the ones that would be applicable for telemedicine and no other standards set by other agencies would not be set for telemedicine services.

With regards to insurance, bill SB 1107 clearly states that telemedicine services only rendered through facsimile or audio interactions will not be affected by Texas Telemedicine parity law. This means that insurance providers in Texas were prohibited from using telemedicine as a ground for restricting coverage with the exception of when the services have been rendered through fax or phone. The insurance providers in Texas were also required to post on their website their telehealth coverage policies as well as their payment practices to allow consumers to determine the amount of coverage available.

Earlier on this year, the Texas Senate approved the bill, and later in May, Texas Governor Greg Abbott put his signature on the bill and signed it into law. This marked a new era for telemedicine in this state and an end to years of legal battle between telehealth providers and the Texas Medical Board. Teladoc was the greatest winner given that it was one of the main parties that engaged the Texas Medical Board in years of court battle. While these companies are the ones that set the stage and triggered the amendments of the initial laws, the bill grants victory to the residents of Texas, particularly those from the rural parts of the state.

With the bill in place and the hurdles in the path of Telemedicine out, the Texas Medical Board is now charged with the task of ensuring that they set and adopt new regulations to govern telemedicine in the state. Some focus areas are:

• Ensuring that the patients who employ telemedicine services receive health care that is at par with the quality standards set.
• Preventing fraud and abuse through telemedicine by setting strong rules with regards to filing claims and keeping records of telemedicine encounters.
• Ensuring that there is adequate supervision of medical professionals to ensure that fraudulent physicians do not exploit unknowing patients.
• Establishing the maximum number of nurse practitioners and physician assistants a physician may supervise.

How Misinformation Prevents the Benefits of Freestanding Emergency Centers

How Misinformation Prevents the Benefits of Freestanding Emergency Centers

The rising healthcare costs are increasingly becoming a headache for citizens, lawmakers, healthcare providers and health insurance providers. Out-of-network healthcare and surprise billing are some of the major problems that the United States is struggling with. Freestanding emergency rooms have been proven to be quite effective and a possible solution to the problem of inaccessibility of healthcare, particularly for people in the rural areas. However, they have been the main target and have been blamed by insurance companies as being the main factor contributing to the rising costs of healthcare.

Freestanding Emergency Centers have grown in number in the last few years. Thanks to that and their increased popularity, more patients can easily access medical care and more conveniently as compared to emergency rooms in hospitals. But the growth has also resulted in misinformation from insurance companies. Bellaire ER argues that the amount of misinformation with regards to freestanding emergency centers ultimately clouds the loads of benefits that these facilities bring.

When you hear the view of a health insurance company, they will say that Freestanding Emergency Centers prefer to remain out-of-network for their own benefits. This is one of the lies that cloud them since freestanding emergency centers have always been open to contract insurance companies. They are often denied when it comes to negotiating their network status to in-network. The few that are lucky to gain the in-network status are usually offered rates that are considerably low as compared to what other licensed emergency facilities are offered.

Consumers are usually on the receiving end when it comes to the consequences of the greed of insurance companies. The freestanding emergency companies require the patients’ treatment bills to be paid for them to be operational. However, since health insurance companies want to ensure that they make bigger profits, much of the medical costs are channeled to the consumers. That is how patients end up with surprise medical bills.

Over the last five years, insurance premiums have increased by almost 20 percent and deductibles by over 60 percent. The same span was characterized by an inflation rate of only 6 percent. This shows the extent by which insurance companies have shifted their focus from ensuring that Americans receive affordable healthcare to generating maximum profits. The huge resistance to keep freestanding emergency centers in-network, increasing the deductibles and the predatory low reimbursements, have resulted in shifting of healthcare costs to the patients.

The federal law and the state law require insurance companies to pay the full in-network benefits for all licensed emergency rooms in the state. This is to be done regardless of whether or not the emergency room has been contracted with the insurer. However, insurers often go against these laws by processing freestanding emergency center claims at out-of-network rates. The result is that policyholders end up being inhibited from accessing their full coverage. The consequent result is higher patient responsibility in the form of a surprise bill. A patient seeking an explanation for the same will always be hit with the false excuse that the cost comes as a result of increase billing by the healthcare providers while the truth is that they have cut their coverage for profit purposes.

Another misinformation from the side of health insurance companies is that freestanding emergency centers confuse their patients with regards to the offered services. Again, this is just a blanket they use to cover the fact that they are driven by the desire to create profits as opposed to providing efficient health care coverage to their customers. The good thing now is that laws are being put in place to prevent this kind of misinformation. In Texas, the law requires freestanding emergency centers to post signage inside and outside of their buildings that clearly state that they are emergency facilities. Additionally, patients have to provide written acknowledgment of the same. This law has yielded very positive results. The Texas Department of Insurance has been receiving fewer insurance coverage complaints.

When the model of freestanding emergency centers was introduced into the United States healthcare system, there was a lot of excitement and optimism that the freestanding emergency centers would help in solving the health crisis in the country. The model helps make emergency health care more accessible to the citizens, especially those in the rural areas, helps reduce the pressure that full-service hospitals are subjected to and saves thousands of dollars of medical expenses since they admit patients at a much lower rate.

However, insurance companies have come to take advantage of the nonexistence of clear guidelines to govern the existing laws. Their focus has always been to make more profits resulting in the derailment of this innovative model of providing emergency care to patients. As such, it is important that lawmakers make it their priority to establish clear laws and guidelines that will ensure oversight of insurance companies. Otherwise, the potential benefits that freestanding emergency care facilities provide will never be enjoyed.

Do Freestanding Emergency Centers purposely saddle patients with surprise medical bills?

Do Freestanding Emergency Centers purposely saddle patients with surprise medical bills?

Freestanding emergency centers have experienced rapid growth in recent years. This only proves that they offer real value for money. Otherwise, patients would have shunned them by now and they would have died a natural death. Despite this growth and the real value, they offer patients, FECs have been the victim of numerous falsehoods. One of the myths that FECs such as Bellaire ER face is that they saddle patients with surprise medical bills. This article will examine this falsehood and seek to dispel it completely.

FECs could actually help to lower the cost of healthcare

A recent study by the University of Michigan, which was undertaken in 2010, found that the average cost of inpatient care was about $35,000 per patient. This is quite a lot for any one patient to bear, considering that they have other bills and that their insurer probably will not cover such a huge bill.

It was found that outpatient ER care could actually help to lower this cost. However, since traditional ERs have an interest in getting patients into inpatient care, this may not always work well. FECs are not bound to any hospital, and they thus do not have an interest in the patient being admitted. It is thus likely that patients will get to go home when there is no need for an overnight stay. This could help them to lower medical costs

Surveys show that it is not the case

Numerous scientific surveys conducted by TAFEC show that a huge majority of patients are well aware of the bills they are supposed to pay. Thus, they do not complain about being hit with unexpected bills. This is contrary to the myth that many patients usually end up with surprise bills.

It is the insurers who are at fault and not the FECs

Under Texas law, there is a loophole, which sometimes leads to predatory behavior by insurers. The law in Texas says that emergency care must be reimbursed to health care centers at a “usual and customary” rate. However, the law is silent about what “usual and customary” means. The insurers thus take great liberty when coming up with a definition for each case. Thus, while some insurers will give adequate reimbursement, others will not.

The FEC is left with the option to collect the debt from the patient or get in touch with the Texas Department of insurance. Some will go to the department, while others will go to the patient. In all honesty, it is the easiest decision as it helps to free them up to run the FEC. The patient can then take up the issue with the department if they feel their insurer acted in bad faith.

Some patients just do not understand the law

The Affordable Care Act makes it clear that all patients have a right to receive emergency care. Thus, a person cannot be penalized for going to an FEC for care. The ACA leaves the determination of what is emergency care up to the patient. Whenever the patient feels they have an emergency, they are at liberty to visit an FEC, whether it is in-network or not.

However, there are numerous health plans that are not compliant with these rules. When making a determination, they do not uphold the patient’s decision to visit the FEC based on their personal assessment. They make their own determination and pay less than they should. This is what leaves patients with surprise bills. However, if patients understood the rules, they would challenge this illegal activity by some insurers. The blame is thus unfairly laid on the FEC.

Billing mistakes occur

Sometimes simple billing mistakes occur. Remember that FECs are open 24/7, which means they are always handling new patients. There is no off peak time during which they can rest and get things in order. It is thus up to you to check the bill carefully to ensure that it contains no mistakes.

Many mistakes may occur including the wrong billing code, wrong procedures, or diagnosis being included, or even the wrong name. A few minutes checking the bill for problems could help to save you many problems associated with an incorrect bill.

The insurance company may be taking its sweet time to pay

Sometimes, some insurers will take their sweet time to pay the bill in the hope that you will pay it. It is morally wrong. It is thus important for you to pursue your insurer when you are hit with unpaid bills. Record every conversation with your doctor and the insurer and pursue them to the end. Eventually, they will fess up if they have no legal ground on which to stand. If your insurer is prone to such games, you may want to think about changing insurers. However, it goes to show that the FECs are not at fault. They cannot be held responsible for the mischievous actions of your insurer.

Are Hospital ERs required to treat all patients?

Are Hospital ERs required to treat all patients?

There are many healthcare providers in the American healthcare system. All of these providers have different functionalities and adhere to different rules and regulations that guide them. Due to this complexity in the healthcare system, it is easy for patients to be confused. Bellaire ER has decided to compose this article to enlighten patients on hospital ERs, how they function and how they differ from other types of ERs.

Hospital ERs

Hospital emergency rooms are the most common type ER. These are emergency rooms that are attached to a hospital and offer quality care to patients with emergency cases.

The hospital ERs differ from freestanding emergency centers (FEC) in that the hospital ERs are located at the site of the hospital while the FECs are physically detached from the affiliated hospital. An FEC also doesn’t have to be affiliated to a hospital as it can be independently run.

Despite these differences, hospital ERs as well as FECs, whether hospital owned or independently run, offer the same kind of medical care for their patients. The emergency rooms provide quality care to patients with a health emergency by prioritizing them an offering quality and timely care.

Hospital ERs also accept Medicare and Medicaid insured patients since they are recognized by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. This is unlike the independent FECs which are not recognized by this body, and hence they can’t accept the government-run health insurance plans. Hospital ERs are also required to put up notices to inform their patients that they accept Medicare and Medicaid.

Emergency care

The hospital ERs also have to abide by the federal regulations regarding emergency care. The Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA) is one of the most prominent federal regulations regarding emergency care. This Act requires the hospital ERs to offer emergency treatment to all patients regardless of their ability to pay. In other words, the hospital ERs are required to treat all patients who visit them with a problem that can be considered as a health emergency.

The hospital ERs should offer the emergency care without discrimination to all people regardless of their financial or insurance status, gender, age or race.

Hospital owned FECs are also required to adhere to EMTALA. In contrast, independent FECs are not required to follow EMTALA, and hence they can deny emergency care to a patient if he or she doesn’t have the ability to pay. However, in some states, such as Texas, there are state laws that mirror EMTALA and require the independent FECs to offer emergency care to all patients.

When a patient visits a hospital ER for emergency treatment, he or she has to undergo proper screening and be stabilized before the hospital can discuss payment with them. In Texas, the law mandates that insurers should reimburse for the cost of emergency care to a patient at an in-network rate even if the hospital ER is out of network. This law also applies to FECs.

Non-emergency care

When dealing with non-emergency care, hospital ERs might turn a patient away if he/she doesn’t have the ability to pay. This is for the privately owned hospitals. Patients with non-emergency cases cannot be turned away at a public hospital ER.


Hospital ERs might be hard to access for many patients. This is because hospitals are usually located on the outskirts of cities. This is one of the reasons why FECs are a necessity. FECs can be located closer to where people are such as in neighborhoods and shopping centers. The quick accessibility provided by the FECs proves critical in emergency situations as every second counts. The FECs, therefore, help to reduce the travel time for emergency cases.

The only advantage when visiting a hospital ER compared to an FEC is in hospital transfers. In hospital ERs, a patient who needs to be admitted is ushered into the hospital with minimal effort. If the ER is an FEC, the patient will need to be transported to the hospital.


Hospital ERs are notorious for overcrowding as many people come here to seek medical attention. The overcrowding causes a strain on resources the staff struggle to offer quality care to all patients.

Since ERs prioritize emergencies over other treatments, people with non-emergency problems can experience extremely long wait times, especially if there is are multiple emergencies.

This is one of the reasons why patients might prefer to visit an FEC instead of a hospital ER. FECs are rarely crowded, and they offer quality care. The wait times in FECs might be less than 10 minutes. Since the FECs are not overcrowded, the doctor can take some quality time to diagnose you correctly. Also, emergency cases can be attended to immediately with the full array of physicians and medical equipment on standby.

In summary, hospital ERs can treat all patients, but they are not required to unless it’s in a public hospital. The hospital ERs are, however, required to treat all emergency patients.

Are Freestanding Emergency Centers real emergency rooms?

Are Freestanding Emergency Centers real emergency rooms?

Freestanding emergency centers such as Bellaire ER in the US have experienced phenomenal growth in the recent past. They offer a model of health care that is committed to speed, quality, and ensuring patients get access to physicians. There have been many misconceptions around these FECs that need to be cleared. One of the popular myths is that they are not real emergency rooms. However, this is just a myth, as the facts presented here will show.

They are bound by the same rules as emergency rooms

The first state to license FECs was Texas, in 2009. Today, it has led to over 200 independent FECs in the state and over 100 hospital-affiliated ones. These FECS are usually found within neighborhoods, and they offer patients care in a timely manner.
The FECs are bound by the same rules as other hospital ERs. The rules that were drafted for the establishment of the FECs are similar to those that govern all ERs in the country. Thus, this cannot be true that they are not true ERs.

FECs cannot turn away any patient who needs emergency care

Just like an ER, an FEC is bound by the law to offer patient care to anyone who turns up at its doorstep. This is quite similar to what happens when you walk into an ER. Whether you are on Medicaid, Medicare or uninsured, you have to be stabilized at the FEC. This has led to millions of uncompensated hours spent stabilizing patients in different stages of distress. It is just more proof that an FEC is the same as an ER.

FECs must have a doctor trained in emergency care present at all times

One of the cardinal rules for any ER is that a doctor, trained in emergency care has to be present there at all times. Otherwise, it cannot be classified as an ER. There are also huge legal penalties for failing to uphold this rule. It is the same in an FEC; a doctor must be on call at all times to cater to patients who need their services.

FECs must be open 24/7, 365 days a year

Even when a hospital has to shut down some of its operations, the emergency room must always be open. This is the same rule as with an FEC. Patients must be able to gain access to it whenever they wish and whatever their situation. The only difference to a hospital based ER is that it does not need to be bound to a hospital. This makes an FEC the same as an ER but even more convenient. Patients do not have to worry about a ride to the hospital when the FEC is located within their neighborhood.

FECs can use the word “Emergency” in their signage and marketing material

This is quite significant proof that FECs are the same as an emergency room. If you check the law, it states that only an emergency room can use the word “Emergency” in its signage and marketing material. This is done to prevent confusing that may arise where patients are led to believe they are at an urgent care center. FECs have been allowed by law to use the word “Emergency.” This proves that they are indeed emergency rooms for purposes of legal definitions.

FECs must have a nurse trained in emergency care present at all times
This is another rule that makes them the same as any other emergency room. When you go to a hospital ER, you will usually find nurses present trying to offer quick care to patients and refer the rest to the doctor. This is the same with an FEC. However, one difference may be that FECs are usually less crowded. Thus, you will still get access to an ER nurse, but one who is under less pressure since they are dealing with fewer people.

FECs can only stabilize patients and refer them to hospitals for inpatient care

If FECs were just any other health facility, they would be allowed by law to provide inpatient care. However, that cannot be possible. They can only stabilize patients before letting them go to a hospital for inpatient care. It is just more proof that an FEC is no different from an ER. In an ER, only patients who are being stabilized occupy beds. Once they are stable, they are shifted to the hospital. This is also, what happens in an FEC. It just proves they are no different from an ER attached to a hospital.

FECs are required to have the equipment used to screen and diagnose emergency room cases

If FECs were indeed different from an ER, this rule would not apply to them. They must have the basic equipment present in an ER. They also have to have staff that can use the equipment to make a diagnosis and to stabilize patients.

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