Health Care

Know Where to Go: Onsite vs. Offsite Emergency Care

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Did you know there are different types of ERs? AdventHealth Waterman’s Chief Medical Officer and emergency medicine physician, Floriano Putigna, DO, explains the key differences between an offsite emergency room and a comprehensive, full-service ER.

Dr. Putigna’s ER Advice

You never know when a medical emergency will strike. But when it does, it’s important to know your options and seek appropriate care from the right experts in a timely manner.

Onsite vs. Offsite Emergency Rooms

Offsite emergency rooms (sometimes referred to as “freestanding” ERs) are appropriate locations to receive minor or intermediate care where certain advanced imaging, such as CT scanners, are needed, and there is a stable diagnostic uncertainty. But if you have a true emergency that may require surgery or aggressive intervention, full-service onsite emergency rooms are more beneficial.

What Constitutes an Emergency?

“True emergencies” include heart attacks, strokes, respiratory emergencies, significant bleeding, or severely broken bones. They’re best served in full-scale emergency departments housed onsite within a hospital's physical structure.

When Every Second Counts

Although offsite emergency rooms can provide assessments and treatments for many conditions, they can’t replace fully functioning emergency departments when timely diagnoses in the “seconds to minutes” category are at play. If surgery, high-level emergency imaging, or ICU-level care is needed, only a full-service ER with 24/7 access to specialists and advanced imaging, like MRIs, can provide the expertise and support required to address these issues. If needed onsite, patients can also be admitted for inpatient care quickly and seamlessly. In contrast, offsite emergency rooms are required to transport patients to a full-service facility if higher level care is needed. Time is of the essence in a medical emergency.

Surgical Care Needs

Quality surgical care goes hand in hand with a comprehensive emergency department. The relationship built between surgeons and emergency physicians is paramount when it comes to timely communication, patient assessment, rapid intervention, and a seamless transition to the operating room. We provide the full scope of surgical services, including general and open-heart surgery, neurosurgery and more.

Know When to Go to the ER

It can be difficult to know when to go to an emergency room. If you experience chest pain, unexplained weakness, significant bleeding, or unexplained and severe onset of pain, seek immediate emergency care.

This list is not exhaustive; when you’re concerned for your health, that’s reason enough to seek emergency care. And our expert team at AdventHealth Waterman is always here when you need us most.

We’re Here for You 24/7

When the unexpected happens, find exceptional emergency care near you at

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