Difference Between Freestanding ER and Hospital ER

Did you know that freestanding emergency rooms have been around for almost 50 years? Lately, there’s been an uptick in their popularity, but the concept of a freestanding emergency room (ER) is not new. How do these emergency rooms compare with a hospital emergency room? And are they the same thing as urgent care?

First of all, no, they’re not the same thing as an urgent care center. While an urgent care center can only treat minor injuries and illnesses, a freestanding ER can treat the same conditions that can be treated in an ER that’s attached to a hospital. Both a hospital ER and a freestanding ER have state of the art technology, provide high-quality care, and are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They treat people without regard for medical insurance, and the cost is about the same for both types of ER. So how are they different?

  • Their ownership may vary. While a hospital ER is part of the hospital it’s attached to, a freestanding ER can be owned by a hospital, a health system, or a private organization. In a freestanding ER, the doctors, nurses, and other personnel tend to be private employees.
  • A freestanding ER has more “walk-in” patients. In other words, most people who visit a freestanding emergency room bring themselves to the ER instead of arriving by ambulance. By contrast, about 40 percent of hospital ER patients come in an ambulance. Freestanding emergency rooms usually have shorter wait times.
  • A hospital ER provides easier hospital admission. This is probably obvious, as it’s attached to a hospital. If you’re at a freestanding ER and it’s determined that you need to be hospitalized, you’ll be taken to a hospital in an ambulance. Typically, private freestanding emergency rooms have agreements with local hospitals so that patients can be admitted quickly.
  • Freestanding emergency rooms are often more convenient than hospital ERs. While hospital ERs are only located at hospitals, freestanding ERs have many different locations. They were initially built to offer care to people in remote, mostly rural areas, but that’s no longer the case. Today, freestanding emergency rooms are extremely accessible, even located near shopping centers, which makes it easier for people to visit them and receive care.

Note: insurance doesn’t always treat emergency rooms equally. Check your insurance before choosing an emergency room, especially if you have government insurance like Medicare or Medicaid. Government insurance will only pay out if the emergency room you choose is owned by a hospital. This may be changing, so always check before you head to the ER.

If you’re looking for a freestanding emergency room in Texas, trust Exceptional Healthcare. We can provide the care you need, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, even on holidays. With 13 different locations across Texas to serve you, we’re here to help when you have an emergency. Visit our website to learn more or drop by to see our facilities for yourself.

Scroll to Top
Exceptional ER Logo


The Exceptional Emergency Room staff and physicians care about you and your loved ones. We are here 24/7 for all your emergency care needs.

  1. If you are experiencing fever, shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness, weakness, numbness, sensory loss, or any other emergent medical problems, please call 911 or seek medical care immediately at your nearest Emergency Room.
  2. To provide the highest quality emergency medical care to our communities, we are directing all routine COVID testing to outpatient community resources.
  3. Testing through local resources, including your primary care doctor, urgent care, walk-in clinic, or local health department, is appropriate under the following circumstances:
    1. If you have been exposed to a person known to have COVID, and you do not have symptoms, we recommend that you self-quarantine at home and seek testing 4-5 days after exposure. It often takes this long for the infection to be detected by routine lab testing.
    2. If you have no symptoms or very mild symptoms, outpatient testing is also typically appropriate.
    3. Please follow this link for local COVID testing resources.
  4. If you have tested negative, you should still self-quarantine for 14 days from the day of suspected exposure as it can take anywhere from 2-14 days to come down with symptoms of this infection.
  5. Please kindly limit your phone time with our Emergency Rooms as the phone lines are needed to communicate with other health care entities and to provide patients their test results. Thank you for your understanding during this trying time.