Frequently Asked Questions About Emergency Care

It is difficult to keep a clear head when you are in the middle of an emergency. At Houston Methodist, our highly skilled health care team provides the immediate treatment you need and clearly explains to you and your family the care or procedures that need to be performed during a medical emergency.

Following are the most common questions people ask us about urgent and emergency room care.


When Should I Use an Emergency Room?
Patients and caregivers should use sound judgment when accessing emergency room services. An emergency room is intended to treat emergencies and is designed to address major medical problems and injuries.


Why Should I Call 911 for an Emergency?
When you are having an emergency medical problem, getting to treatment is critical, so every minute counts — that is why it is so important to call 911.

  • 911 dispatchers are trained to not only locate you quickly, but also assist you in early treatment options.
  • Emergency Medical Services (EMS) can diagnose a heart attack by using an electrocardiogram (EKG) and initiate early treatment.
  • EMS is able to radio ahead to the emergency room that you are on your way. This enables the staff to be ready for you when you arrive.


What is Ambulance Diversion?
Overcrowded emergency rooms lead to a limited availability of ER personnel, inefficient use of the ER, and the increased possibility of ambulance diversion, which is when emergency rooms become overcrowded and ambulances are diverted to alternative hospitals.

 

Someone I Know Was Taken to a Houston Methodist Emergency Room. How can I Get Information?
To find out information about a family member or a loved one, please contact one of the emergency care centers or hospital ERs listed below.


What is the Difference Between an Urgent Care Center and an Emergency Room?
An urgent care center typically is not open 24/7, does not have treatment options for such specialties as geriatrics or pediatrics, does not typically participate in Medicare and Medicaid programs, and is often not staffed with emergency medicine trained practitioners. Some do not have doctors on site, relying instead on physician assistants or nurse practitioners for care. Many typically will not care for patients who are unable to pay for their care immediately.


Houston Methodist hospital ERs and emergency care centers provide a full range of medical services to all patients, regardless of the severity of their illness or their age. We are staffed with emergency medicine, board-certified doctors; our nurses have special training and certification in emergency medicine; we are open 24/7/365; and we are departments of Houston Methodist, which enables us to handle cases that require admission to the hospital.

 

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What is the Difference Between a Houston Methodist hospital ER and Emergency Care Center?
Our hospital ERs are located at hospital facilities. Our emergency care centers are standalone facilities, often located near residential neighborhoods, and are connected to Houston Methodist hospitals.

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What if I Need Surgery?
If you need surgery or medical admission to the hospital, we can easily transfer you for consultation with a surgeon or other appropriate specialists.

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What if I Need to be Admitted to the Hospital?
If you need admission, we can transfer you to a Houston Methodist hospital or to another facility that offers the appropriate level of care.

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Can I Come to the Emergency Care Center with Serious Symptoms?
Yes. Both our ERs and emergency care center staff are capable of attending to patients with any medical condition, regardless of severity. If definitive treatment of your condition requires an inpatient setting, we will see that you are stabilized and then transfer you to an inpatient setting at a Houston Methodist hospital.

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Can Children be Treated at the Emergency Care Center?
Yes. We treat patients of all ages and welcome our pediatric patients and their families.

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Will a Doctor be Able to Read My Labs and Films at the Emergency Care Center?
Yes. Preliminary X-ray readings are rendered at our facilities, and then a board-certified radiologist will confirm the findings within 24 hours. All computed tomography (CT) scans and ultrasounds are read by a radiologist in real time.

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Are the Doctors at the Emergency Care Facility the Same as Houston Methodist Hospital ER?
Yes. All doctors at our facilities are board certified in emergency medicine and hold clinical privileges at Houston Methodist.

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Is the Emergency Care Center ER Different from the Hospital ER?
Our emergency care centers offer an efficient ER experience; we provide that level of care in an environment specifically designed to benefit healing and wellness. The centers were all designed with the patient experience in mind, so the decor, artwork and furnishings reflect this attention to detail.

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Does the Emergency Care Center Charge the Same as a Hospital ER?
Yes. Patient visits are billed the same as hospital emergency visits. Insurance co-pays are based on your plan and we accept Medicare, Medicaid, managed care and self-pay patients. Our staff will discuss payment methods and schedules with you at the time of service.

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For a quick way to understand the difference between an urgent care facility and our emergency care centers, download this brochure.