The State of Texas has completed a comprehensive study and found the value a free standing emergency department (hereinafter "FSED") brings to communities outweighs any poential risk to patient safety. Hospital lobbyists will attempt to stop the growth and development of free standing emergency departments because they have the potential of removing revenue from the hospital, otherwise known as the facility fee.
This facilitiy model is no different than the development of Ambulatory Surgery Centers in the early 90's. Hospitals resisted the licensing and development of ASCs but now they are a routine medical facility in many communities.
Current hospital emergency room wait times are measured in hours because many patients who should not be there access the system for basic primary care. The EMTALA regulations force hospitals to treat a significant number of indigent patitents. FSEDs significantly reduce wait times and provide a higher quality experience, particularly for patients with commerical insurance or the ability to pay.
Washington State should embrace the concept and move to develop the regulatory requirements for a physician to obtain a license much like Texas has already done.
Grover "Pete" Peters, FACHE, CMPE