Choosing a Freestanding ER vs. Urgent Care

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Patients have choices when dealing with a medical emergency. Rather than going to a traditional hospital ER, many patients choose to visit a freestanding ER or an urgent care center. Depending on your location, both may be convenient options, and they often look similar, so which one should you choose?

What is a Freestanding Emergency Room?

A freestanding ER has all the same capabilities and expert staff you would expect at a traditional hospital emergency room, but they’re located in your community. Most freestanding ERs, like Five Star ER, have intensive diagnostic tools like CT scans, ultrasounds and X-rays, as well as on-site laboratories for rapid diagnosis. All of our doctors are board certified and all our medical staff members have extensive emergency room experience. Freestanding ERs are also open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, so no matter when or where your emergency, we can help.

What is an Urgent Care?

Urgent Care centers are more like an extension of your doctor’s office. They are not open 24/7, but usually have extended hours. They can easily handle minor illnesses like sore throats, coughs and minor cuts. They do not typically have on-site lab tests and because the person treating is often a physician’s assistant (PA) or nurse practitioner (NP), they cannot diagnose severe illnesses or injuries.

Why Location Matters

About half of all urgent care centers are in retail shopping centers and 95% of the medical staff at urgent care centers do not have hospital admitting privileges. What does this mean for you? If you are in a situation that requires more serious testing or medical services than an urgent care can provide, you would either have to drive yourself there or call an ambulance and, upon arrival at the hospital, go through the whole triage system at the hospital ER.

In contrast, Five Star ER locations were specifically chosen to be easily accessible and convenient to get to from major roads, meaning you don’t have to search for our store fronts. We also have board-certified emergency physicians and expert staff to provide advance diagnostics that may save you a trip to the hospital. In the rare cases that our patients need to be admitted, we work to arrange a direct transfer to an inpatient bed (or operating room), bypassing the hassle of the hospital ER.

Learn more about the difference between a freestanding ER and an urgent care from Five Star ER Medical Director Dr. Brian Aldred in the short video below!

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About Five Star ER

Five Star ER is owned and operated by the physicians of US Acute Care Solutions, a respected provider of emergency physician services to hospitals and health systems across Texas for nearly 30 years. Our experienced physicians bring their excellent tradition of emergency care to a first-class, patient-centered freestanding ER.

Our patient-centered care means you will come first. Our freestanding ER provides the capabilities of a hospital emergency department, without the hassles and long waits that can be part of a hospital ER. From the comfortable lounge area and private exam rooms to our top-notch medical team and latest technology, patients can be door-to-doctor in less than 15 minutes.

This content was created to be purely educational in nature. This post is not meant to be used as a substitute for medical treatment or personal consultation regarding a medical condition. As always, if you or a loved one is suffering a life-threatening medical emergency or injury, call 911.

Connect with Five Star ER on Facebook, Instagram and Google+ for more information and health tips!

 

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Why Choose a Freestanding ER Instead of a Hospital ER?

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Five-Star-ER-South-Austin-Exterior-Ambulance-Bay

In an emergency medical situation, you likely won’t have time to research hospitals or to investigate where to find the best emergency care. That’s why it’s important to be prepared ahead of time and know where you will go should a medical emergency occur. Today, patients and their families can choose between a traditional hospital-based ER and a freestanding ER. But how can you determine which is the best? Read on to learn the key differences between the two and why you should choose a freestanding ER in an emergency.

Wait Time

A crowded waiting room is usually the last place you or your family members want to be during an emergency. You want help, and you want it fast! Traditional hospital emergency rooms are typically slow and overcrowded, often due to unavoidable factors such as trauma cases that are given the highest priority. On average, patients in traditional hospital ERs wait 20 minutes or longer before being seen by a doctor. In an emergency, 20 minutes can feel like forever.

At a freestanding emergency room, like Five Star ER, patients can access the same quality of care and the same high-level services that a traditional hospital ER will have, but without the wait. In most cases, patients can walk in and be seen by a doctor in as little as 5 minutes. Because Five Star ER is open 24/7, this means you can access quality emergency care at any time and never worry about having to wait to be seen.

Diagnostic Tests

In a traditional hospital ER, the lobby isn’t the only place that many patients wait. Diagnostic testing (imaging and laboratory services) is frequently performed outside of the emergency department and/or by personnel other than the emergency room staff. This often means you must wait in line and compete with patients from elsewhere in the hospital for a CT scan, or that you and your family must wait to get the results of important tests.

At Five Star ER, we have diagnostic labs in house to provide the fastest and most reliable care to you and your family. The state-of-the-art technology and equipment we have onsite at each location gives our physicians the information they need to quickly diagnose and treat your medical emergency—so you can get on with your life.

Patient Care

During treatment at a traditional hospital emergency room, patient may be seen and treated by a number of medical personnel, with little or no time to converse or diagnose the patient’s medical problems. This can sometimes result in unnecessary medical tests and even unnecessary hospital admissions.

At Five Star ER, our patient-centered care means you come first. You will always be seen by a board-certified emergency physician and nurses trained in emergency care in a healing, family-friendly environment. Typically, the only medical staff a patient will see in a freestanding emergency room will be the emergency physician, a registered nurse and a medical technologist. These three individuals provide continuous, coordinated medical care that patients need and deserve. They usually have the time to spend with the patient to get a proper diagnosis and thus possibly avoid unnecessary diagnostic testing and any unnecessary hospital admissions.

Emergencies happen. Knowing where to go for the best emergency care can make all the difference. At Five Star ER, we are proud to deliver compassionate, responsive emergency care for adults and children of all ages. Plus, you’ll get the level of care you’d expect from a traditional hospital emergency room with none of the wait. So, whatever got you here, we’ll get you in and out and feeling better fast. Click here to find the closest Five Star ER location to you.

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About Five Star ER

Five Star ER is locally owned and operated by the physicians of Emergency Service Partners, a respected provider of emergency physician services to hospitals and health systems across Texas for nearly 30 years. Our experienced physicians bring their excellent tradition of emergency care to a first-class, patient-centered freestanding ER.

Our patient-centered care means you will come first. Our freestanding ER provides the capabilities of a hospital emergency department, without the hassles and long waits that can be part of a hospital ER. From the comfortable lounge area and private exam rooms to our top-notch medical team and latest technology, patients can be door-to-doctor in less than 15 minutes.

This content was created to be purely educational in nature. This post is not meant to be used as a substitute for medical treatment or personal consultation regarding a medical condition. As always, if you or a loved one is suffering a life-threatening medical emergency or injury, call 911.

Connect with Five Star ER on Facebook, Instagram and Google+ for more information and health tips!

 

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Solar Eclipse Safety

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Friends viewing solar eclipse

The opportunity to view a partial solar eclipse in the Austin area Monday afternoon, August 21, has lots of people excited. But viewing the eclipse poses its own health risks.

The basics of sun safety apply: don’t stare directly at the sun, and always use sunscreen even if it’s overcast. But did you know there are other things you can do to avoid injuries while enjoying the eclipse? Here are 3 tips to stay safe:

1. Stay Hydrated

This may seem like common sense, but hydration is important to remember even in all the excitement! The eclipse will only be partial in Central Texas, but it is predicted to start at 11:41 a.m. and end at 2:39 p.m., with the maximum eclipse visible at 1:10 p.m. This is the hottest time of the year, and the hottest time of the day! The recommended amount of water to drink will vary based on age, weather, and level of activity but a good rule of thumb is to divide your weight in half and drink that many ounces per day. So, for example, a 150-pound person should drink 75 ounces a day.

2. Buy Eclipse Glasses or Solar Filters

Even in a solar eclipse you should never look directly at the sun or you may risk permanent damage your eyes! The safe alternative is to use eclipse glasses or solar filters if you have binoculars or a telescope. If you want to buy glasses, NASA recommends welder’s glasses rated at 14 or above. Welder’s glasses can be purchased at welding supply stores, or you can look up where to buy American Astronomical Society recommended glasses here.

3. DIY a Pinhole Projector

A lot of places may have sold out of specialized solar eclipse viewing equipment, but with simple equipment like an empty cereal box, a piece of paper, or even your own hands, you can make a pinhole projector! Pinhole projection works by allowing light to come through a small hole (such as a gap in your fingers) to be projected on another surface. Check out this video tutorial from NASA on how to make your own pinhole projector!

Stay safe and keep hydrated! With four convenient central Texas locations, and around-the-clock expert emergency medical care, Five Star ER is here for you and your family.

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About Five Star ER

Five Star ER is locally owned and operated by the physicians of Emergency Service Partners, a respected provider of emergency physician services to hospitals and health systems across Texas for nearly 30 years. Our experienced physicians bring their excellent tradition of emergency care to a first-class, patient-centered freestanding ER.

Our patient-centered care means you will come first. Our freestanding ER provides the capabilities of a hospital emergency department, without the hassles and long waits that can be part of a hospital ER. From the comfortable lounge area and private exam rooms to our top-notch medical team and latest technology, patients can be door-to-doctor in less than 15 minutes.

This content was created to be purely educational in nature. This post is not meant to be used as a substitute for medical treatment or personal consultation regarding a medical condition. As always, if you or a loved one is suffering a life-threatening medical emergency or injury, call 911.

Connect with Five Star ER on Facebook, Instagram and Google+ for more information and health tips!

 

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How an Onsite Lab Improves Your Emergency Care

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Imagine you are having chest pains. It could be anything from heart burn to muscle strain, but it could also be a heart attack. Knowing where to go for the best medical care can make all the difference in an emergency like this.

At Five Star ER, we are proud to offer our community unparalleled emergency care, but it’s not just our board-certified physicians and nurses that make this possible. The state-of-the-art technology and equipment we have onsite at each location gives our physicians the information they need to quickly diagnose and treat your medical emergency—so you can get on with your life.

Faster results are just one of the benefits of having a laboratory on premise of a freestanding ER. Not only does it save time to get lab results, it can also save you money. Eighty-five percent of people who go to the ER for chest pains are not having heart attacks, but until doctors know for certain you will have to stay in the ER and may be subject to more expensive tests and procedures. When blood panel results can be reviewed quickly you may not have to undergo more diagnostic testing. If you go to a place that does not have a laboratory on site it could take three hours more for doctors to get those important test results back.

Another plus is that the information can be passed on from doctor, nurse, or lab technician to the patient easily and quickly. The quicker information is given to all members of your care team, the better, because it means less wait time for you. It also means that everyone helping to take care of you is on the same page and knows the most up-to-date treatment plan, which leads to better and more comprehensive care.

Quick test results don’t just matter in the case of a potential heart attack. Blood tests available are used to screen for and monitor diabetes, anemia, infections and more.

At Five Star ER, we have diagnostic labs on site so that we can help provide the fastest and most reliable care to you and your family. So whether it’s chest pain, an infection, or something else entirely, you can have peace of mind knowing you’ll have access to our 24/7 in-house laboratory.

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About Five Star ER

Five Star ER is locally owned and operated by the physicians of Emergency Service Partners, a respected provider of emergency physician services to hospitals and health systems across Texas for nearly 30 years. Our experienced physicians bring their excellent tradition of emergency care to a first-class, patient-centered freestanding ER.

Our patient-centered care means you will come first. Our freestanding ER provides the capabilities of a hospital emergency department, without the hassles and long waits that can be part of a hospital ER. From the comfortable lounge area and private exam rooms to our top-notch medical team and latest technology, patients can be door-to-doctor in less than 15 minutes.

This content was created to be purely educational in nature. This post is not meant to be used as a substitute for medical treatment or personal consultation regarding a medical condition. As always, if you or a loved one is suffering a life-threatening medical emergency or injury, call 911.

Connect with Five Star ER on Facebook, Instagram and Google+ for more information and health tips!

 

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Heads Up, Parents: Watch Out For Concussions!

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Football-Concussion-ConcernsA new school year means it’s time for football season to start. As a parent, you are your player’s biggest cheerleader, on and off the field. While you support and cheer you should also watch out for concussions. It is estimated that 300,000 high school athletes experience a concussion each year. While you might think that an overwhelming amount of these concussions occur during the player’s games, a new study shows otherwise.

This study found that for youth, high school, and collegiate football players, a majority of concussions happened during practices. Practice tends to have more people playing, more player-to-player contact, and more opportunities for potential injuries. Implementing safer practice strategies that focus on limiting player-to-player contact and other potential injuries can help reduce the risks that football players face.

Another way to reduce the negative effects of sports concussions is to watch for warning signs and ensure players seek treatment early if they do sustain a concussion while playing. Beware: warning signs are not always what you think!

“Loss of consciousness does not have to occur to have a concussion,” says Dr. Brian Aldred, medical director of Five Star ER in Round Rock. “Actually, it only occurs in about 10 percent of concussions.”

Talking to your child and making sure they understand the dangers of a concussion, and when to report it, is also important! According to one survey, 75% of high school athletes said they would continue playing with an injury to win a game. Additionally, studies show that athletes may not even report a concussion or injury for fear of missing a game or letting down their teammates.

Help keep players safe on and off the field by knowing how to spot a concussion. Warning signs of a potential concussion include:

  • Headache
  • Temporary loss of consciousness
  • Confusion
  • Amnesia surrounding the traumatic event
  • Dizziness or seeing stars
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Nasuea
  • Vomiting
  • Mood changes
  • Fatigue
  • Delayed response to questions

If you think your athlete is suffering from a concussion, it is critical to seek medical attention. Five Star ER will get you in and out, and feeling better fast, because your emergency matters to us!

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About Five Star ER

Five Star ER is locally owned and operated by the physicians of Emergency Service Partners, a respected provider of emergency physician services to hospitals and health systems across Texas for nearly 30 years. Our experienced physicians bring their excellent tradition of emergency care to a first-class, patient-centered freestanding ER.

Our patient-centered care means you will come first. Our freestanding ER provides the capabilities of a hospital emergency department, without the hassles and long waits that can be part of a hospital ER. From the comfortable lounge area and private exam rooms to our top-notch medical team and latest technology, patients can be door-to-doctor in less than 15 minutes.

This content was created to be purely educational in nature. This post is not meant to be used as a substitute for medical treatment or personal consultation regarding a medical condition. As always, if you or a loved one is suffering a life-threatening medical emergency or injury, call 911.

Connect with Five Star ER on FacebookInstagram and Google+ for more information and health tips!

 

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Five Myths About Freestanding ERs

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Facts vs Myths About Free Standing Emergency Rooms

Everyone hopes they will never have to visit an emergency room. However, accidents and severe illnesses can happen at a moment’s notice, which is why emergency rooms exist. When a sudden injury or illness occurs to you, a friend, or a family member, you may hesitate to go to a freestanding ER because of common myths and misconceptions. For that reason, we’ve debunked these common myths about freestanding emergency rooms.

MYTH #1: “Freestanding Emergency Rooms are not true emergency rooms.”

FACT: The Texas Department of State Health Services enforces very clear licensing rules to ensure that freestanding emergency rooms provide the same level of service and meet the same standards as hospital ERs. Like hospitals, freestanding ERs are required to have an emergency trained physician and registered nurse onsite at all times, must be open 24/7, 365 days a year, and must have the clinical equipment necessary to quickly diagnose and treat emergencies.

MYTH #2: “Freestanding Emergency Rooms purposely saddle patients with surprise medical bills (often referred to as balance billing).”

FACT: Based on patient satisfaction surveys and reviews, the vast majority of freestanding ER patients are well informed about the facility’s billing practices and have no complaints about their bills. However, when patients do get hit with unexpected out-of-pocket expenses, there are two primary causes: predatory underpayment by health insurers and confusion on the part of patients regarding the specifics of their own benefit plans.

Texas law requires insurance companies to reimburse health care providers at the “usual and customary rate” for emergency care. But because there is no definition of the term “usual and customary” nor uniform guidelines for insurance companies to follow, insurers have determined their own arbitrary rates and unilaterally declared them to be “usual and customary.” While some insurers provide adequate reimbursement for services, others are reimbursing at a much lower percentage. This leaves freestanding ERs with few options. They can either accept the low reimbursement rate, appeal to the Texas Department of Insurance, or collect the remaining balance from the patient.

MYTH #3: “Unlike hospital ERs, freestanding emergency rooms are not required to treat all patients.”

FACT: Freestanding ERs provide critical access to care for any patient that walks through their door, regardless of insurance or ability to pay. This includes Medicare, Medicaid, and uninsured patients. Just like a hospital-based ER, freestanding ERs are legally required to administer medical screenings and stabilize all patients at their facility. Freestanding ERs provide millions of dollars in uncompensated care annually, serving as an important resource to their local communities.

Dripping-Springs-Emergency-Monument-SignageMYTH #4: “Freestanding emergency rooms price gouge consumers by intentionally misleading them into thinking they are at an urgent care facility.”

FACT: Freestanding ERs provide high quality emergency care for medical emergencies. Furthermore, the Texas Legislature created clear guidelines for freestanding ER operators and comprehensive regulations to ensure freestanding ERs provide the same levels of service as hospital-based ERs. Each freestanding emergency room facility has both external and internal signage prominently displaying the word “Emergency,” postings outlining the available levels of services, and billing disclosures that patients are required to sign acknowledging they are in an emergency room setting. It is also important to note that only licensed emergency care facilities are allowed to use the word “emergency” in their name or marketing material.

MYTH #5: “Freestanding emergency rooms increase the cost of health care.”

FACT: According to a 2010 University of Michigan study, the average cost of an admitted patient is $35,000 per case. Preliminary research suggests that freestanding ERs may help to reduce inpatient admission rates. By treating patients in a freestanding ER setting and transferring only patients in need of inpatient care, freestanding ERs can improve overall efficiency and help save on health care costs. Freestanding ERs have no financial incentive to push patients into hospital admissions, and so can serve as unbiased gateways into the healthcare system.

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About Five Star ER

Five Star ER is locally owned and operated by the physicians of Emergency Service Partners, a respected provider of emergency physician services to hospitals and health systems across Texas for nearly 30 years. Our experienced physicians bring their excellent tradition of emergency care to a first-class, patient-centered freestanding ER.

Our patient-centered care means you will come first. Our freestanding ER provides the capabilities of a hospital emergency department, without the hassles and long waits that can be part of a hospital ER. From the comfortable lounge area and private exam rooms to our top-notch medical team and latest technology, patients can be door-to-doctor in less than 15 minutes. Find the location nearest you.

This content was created to be purely educational in nature. This post is not meant to be used as a substitute for medical treatment or personal consultation regarding a medical condition. As always, if you or a loved one is suffering a life-threatening medical emergency or injury, call 911.

Connect with Five Star ER on Facebook, Instagram and Google+ for more information and health tips!

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Don’t Drive Distracted: 64% Of All Car Accidents Involve Cell Phones

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Distracted Driving DangersIn today’s high tech and busy world, it can be so tempting to pick up your phone to send a text, answer a call or reply to an email. Despite knowing the risks, many drivers (especially teens) continue to text and drive. With April being National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, now is the time to make the commitment to drive phone-free!

What Is Distracted Driving?

Distracted driving is any activity that diverts attention from driving, including talking or texting on your phone, eating and drinking, talking to people in your vehicle, adjusting the stereo, entertainment or navigation system—anything that takes your attention away from the task of safe driving.

Texting is the most alarming distraction. Sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for 5 seconds. At 55 mph, that’s like driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed!

How Dangerous Is Texting And Driving?

Distracted drivers aren’t just a threat to themselves: they’re a danger to everyone else on the road. In 2015 alone, 38% of Texas drivers admitted to talking on their cell phone while driving and more than 20% reported to sending text messages or emails from behind the wheel. During daylight hours, approximately 660,000 drivers are using cell phones while driving. That creates enormous potential for deaths and injuries on U.S. roads. Teens were the largest age group reported as distracted at the time of fatal car accidents.

Do Your Part To End Distracted Driving

The most important thing anyone can do to prevent distracted driving is to put the phone down while in the car! If you can’t avoid the temptation to check emails, calls or texts while driving you can download one of many free apps that will disable texting/calls while you are behind the wheel. In addition, share this information with someone you love to help spread awareness on the dangers of distracted driving.

About Five Star ER

Five Star ER is locally owned and operated by the physicians of Emergency Service Partners, L.P., a respected provider of emergency physician services to hospitals and health systems across Texas for more than 28 years. Our experienced physicians bring their excellent tradition of emergency care to a first-class, patient-centered freestanding ER.

Our patient-centered care means you will come first. Our freestanding ER provides the capabilities of a hospital emergency department, without the hassles and long waits that can be part of a hospital ER. From the comfortable lounge area and private exam rooms to our top-notch medical team and latest technology, patients can be door-to-doctor in less than 15 minutes. To find the location nearest you, click here.

This content was created to be purely educational in nature. This post is not meant to be used as a substitute for medical treatment or personal consultation regarding a medical condition. As always, if you or a loved one is suffering a life-threatening medical emergency or injury, call 911.

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Take Action To Protect Access To Care: Oppose SB 1 Rider

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Not only is this rider anti-competitive and illegal, it endangers the lives of thousands of state employees across Texas by limiting their options for care in the event of a medical emergency. Please urge the Senate Finance Committee to reconsider this rider that ultimately hurts patients. Request that the committee seek cost containment through alternative measures that would not violate federal and state law or jeopardize the health of thousands of Texans throughout the state.

Click HERE to message your state representative and make your voice heard!

What Is The SB 1 Rider?
On Wednesday, March 15, 2017, the Senate Finance Committee adopted recommendations from a cost containment budget work group that would negatively impact public health by reducing access to emergency care across the state.

The Senate Finance Committee voted to add a rider to Senate Bill 1, the Senate budget bill, which directs the Employee Retirement System (ERS) to “disincentivize member utilization of freestanding emergency rooms.” The rider would effectively shift a larger portion of costs for emergency care rendered at a freestanding emergency room to the enrollees of the ERS plan, including higher co-payments and deductibles, regardless of the facility’s network status.

Freestanding emergency rooms are fully functioning emergency rooms that are not attached to a larger hospital. These facilities provide the exact same level of service as hospital-based emergency rooms, and can treat true medical emergencies like heart attacks and strokes. Freestanding emergency rooms are subject to state licensing, with safety and quality standards similar to hospital emergency rooms.

Who Will Be Affected By The SB 1 Rider?
Thousands of state employees across Texas will be affected if SB 1 Rider passes. Blaming providers and punishing ERS enrollees for a poorly managed health insurance contract is not the answer, and it will only lead to increased litigation for the state.

Make Your Voice Heard
Take action now to protect access to care by messaging your state representative today! Click HERE to get started.

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Five Star ER Live With Dr. Ken Domuczicz

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March is National Kidney Health Month! Our most recent #WellnessWednesday Facebook Live Segment on March 8 featured Five Star ER Doctor Ken Domuczicz on the topic of kidney stones, a common kidney problem that affects nearly one out of every ten Americans.

Each year, more than half a million people go to emergency rooms for kidney stone problems. While kidney stones are rarely fatal, they can be extremely painful.
If you missed our Facebook live segment, watch it now!

 

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