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FAQ

Emergency Medical Care FAQs

Emergency Room Questions

WHAT IS CONSIDERED A MEDICAL EMERGENCY?
The state of Texas has adopted “the prudent lay person standard” as the definition of an emergency. To paraphrase the rule, a medical emergency exits when a patient feels that their symptoms are so severe that not being treated could cause them harm. A patient or their loved one’s concerns about the severity of their condition is reason enough to be seen at an ER. Symptoms that seem like mere discomfort to some people could be an indication of something very serious. For example, sudden onset of a toothache could be a symptom of heart attack, and extreme water retention could indicate kidney failure. These are not conditions that a patient could diagnose on their own; they need to be seen by a doctor to be evaluated.
HOW DOES ST. MICHAEL’S EMERGENCY ROOMS DIFFER FROM AN EMERGENCY ROOM AT A HOSPITAL?
St. Michael’s 24 Hour Emergency Rooms offers the same board certified doctors, staffing and equipment as an emergency room attached to a hospital, and can handle any emergency. The only difference between St. Michael’s as a freestanding emergency department and a traditional hospital emergency room is that St. Michael’s is not connected physically to a hospital. After a patient has been evaluated and/or treated at St. Michael’s, if the patient requires surgery or an overnight stay in a hospital, St. Michael’s can transport the patient to any hospital with an immediate opening that is best for the patient’s needs.
IF ST. MICHAEL’S OFFERS THE SAME SERVICES AS AN ER LOCATED AT A HOSPITAL, WHY CHOOSE ST. MICHAEL’S?
St. Michael’s 24 Hour Emergency Rooms was designed with patient comfort in mind. This includes very short wait times to be admitted (an average of 15 minutes) and private examination rooms with elegant furniture and flat screen television monitors. St. Michael’s strives to make the emergency experience as comfortable and pleasant as possible. St. Michael’s was designed by an emergency room physician who created the kind of emergency room that would be best for himself or his own family.
WHAT IS CONSIDERED A MEDICAL EMERGENCY?
The state of Texas has adopted “the prudent lay person standard” as the definition of an emergency. To paraphrase the rule, a medical emergency exits when a patient feels that their symptoms are so severe that not being treated could cause them harm. A patient or their loved one’s concerns about the severity of their condition is reason enough to be seen at an ER. Symptoms that seem like mere discomfort to some people could be an indication of something very serious. For example, sudden onset of a toothache could be a symptom of heart attack, and extreme water retention could indicate kidney failure. These are not conditions that a patient could diagnose on their own; they need to be seen by a doctor to be evaluated.

Why Choose an Emergency Clinic?

WHEN SHOULD A PATIENT VISIT ST. MICHAEL’S RATHER THAN THEIR OWN PHYSICIAN?
Since St. Michael’s is always open, we’re available to see patients when doctors’ offices are closed. In a life threatening emergency, St. Michael’s can treat a patient, something that a doctor’s office is not always prepared to do.
HOW IS ST. MICHAEL’S EMERGENCY ROOMS DIFFERENT THAN “URGENT CARE?”
An urgent care facility is like a doctor’s office with extended hours. Urgent care clinics are usually staffed by a nurse practitioner and generally not trained in triaging critical trauma patients. If a patient goes to an urgent care clinic with a life threatening emergency, the patient will be re-directed to EMS or 911. St. Michael’s Emergency Rooms is fully equipped with ER trained doctors, nurses and technicians to handle all emergencies, from life threatening to minor. Trained in advance life support, St. Michael’s physicians are some of the doctors who also work at level one and level two trauma centers when they’re not on duty at St. Michael’s.
WHAT ARE ST. MICHAEL’S HOURS OF OPERATION?
St. Michael’s is open every day of the year, 24 hours per day. In other words, St. Michael’s Emergency Rooms never closes, not even for hurricanes!
DOES ST. MICHAEL’S TREAT BABIES AND CHILDREN?
Yes! St. Michael’s Emergency Rooms treats patients of every age. St. Michael’s also has specialized pediatric rooms designed for treating children from newborn – adolescence, something you would not find at many hospital-based emergency rooms.
IS ST. MICHAEL’S MORE EXPENSIVE THAN OTHER TYPES OF MEDICAL CARE?
Most insurance plans have a separate co-pay structure for “emergency room visits.” This fee is higher than a doctor’s office visit and generally higher than an “urgent care visit.” Since St. Michael’s is a free standing emergency department, the traditional “emergency room visit” fee is applied to being treated at St. Michael’s Emergency Rooms. If your insurance card itself does not explain the fee structure, please call your insurance company’s customer service line to determine your co-pay before experiencing a medical emergency.
HOW DO ST. MICHAEL’S FEES COMPARE TO OTHER EMERGENCY ROOMS?
Emergency room fees vary from facility to facility. St. Michael’s Emergency Rooms charges usual and customary fees for the Houston area. In other words, St. Michael’s charges patients an average fee; neither higher nor lower than other emergency rooms, whether the emergency room is connected physically to a hospital, is a freestanding emergency room, or like St. Michael’s, is a freestanding emergency department of a hospital.
HOW DOES A PATIENT KNOW IF ST. MICHAEL’S IS “IN NETWORK” FOR INSURANCE?
St. Michael’s is not “in network” for any insurance carrier. Texas law requires insurance carriers to pay for emergency care, whether “in-network” or “out-of- network” at the network level. Again, a “prudent lay person” standard applies for what constitutes an emergency. If a trauma patient were obligated to investigate their insurance “network status” prior to seeking emergency medical help, this loss of time could endanger the patient’s life. That’s why the state of Texas does not allow insurance companies to discriminate between “in-network” and “out -of- network” care in an emergency.
HOW DOES ST. MICHAEL’S HANDLE PATIENTS WITHOUT INSURANCE?
As a free standing emergency department, St. Michael’s will offer a medical screening to each patient who comes to St.Michael’s Emergency Rooms. If the medical exam determines that the patient is having a life threatening emergency, St. Michael’s will treat the patient regardless of their ability to pay. If the medical exam determines that the patient can be treated by a doctor in a non-emergency setting, then the patient will be given a referral. A patient not undergoing a life threatening emergency also has the option to “self pay” for their care at St. Michael’s Emergency Rooms.
WHAT IS “SELF PAY?”
Patients without insurance are always welcome to “self pay.” In this scenario, the patient will pay for their visit by check, credit card or cash.
DOES ST. MICHAEL’S HAVE A RADIOLOGY DEPARTMENT?
Yes, St. Michael’s has three major types of radiology equipment: X-ray, Ultrasound and CT. St. Michael’s has a radiology technician on-premise 24 hours per day. As an added benefit to patients, St. Michael’s has a radiologist (a doctor) on call at all times. When a patient requires images to be taken, the images are sent immediately to the radiologist for evaluation. The patient will have results while they are at St. Michael’s, rather than waiting several days for results in other medical situations. For more about St. Michael’s radiology department, please see the “Radiology” tab on our home page.
DOES ST. MICHAEL’S HAVE A DIAGNOSTIC LAB ON-SITE?
St. Michael’s diagnostic lab is equipped to perform “point of care” testing. These are tests that are developed rapidly so that the patient will have results while they wait. For a comprehensive list and descriptions of St. Michael’s diagnostic lab tests, please click on the “Diagnostic Labs” button on our home page.