HealthDay News — Based on a report published in Health Affairs, there is significant variations in state policies regarding freestanding emergency departments.

Catherine Gutierrez, from Harvard Medical School in Boston, and colleagues describe the effect of state regulations on freestanding emergency departments in regards to the facility’s location, staffing and services. Data were included for 400 freestanding emergency departments from 32 states, as of December 2015.

The researchers found that 21 states had regulations allowing freestanding emergency departments, while 29 states had no regulations that specifically applied to freestanding emergency departments; 1 state had hospital regulations that precluded such facilities.

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There was considerable variation in state policies regarding freestanding emergency departments, with no standard requirements for location, patterns of staffing or clinical capabilities. The number of freestanding emergency departments per capita was lower in states that required facilities to have a certificate of need, compared to states without such a requirement.

“For patients to better understand the capabilities and costs of freestanding emergency departments and to be able to choose the most appropriate site of emergency care, consistent state regulation of freestanding emergency departments is needed,” the authors write.


Gutierrez C, et al. “State Regulation Of Freestanding Emergency Departments Varies Widely, Affecting Location, Growth, And Services Provided”. Health Affairs. 2016;35(10): 1857-1866.