Emergency vs. Urgent Care


Need emergency care? If you’re planning to head to the emergency department at your local hospital, you might have to wait a while. Maryland has the longest wait times in the country with an average wait time of 53 minutes before seeing a provider. The wait time in your area hospital may be longer or shorter.

Urgent care centers are an alternative to the emergency department and might be able to see you sooner. These centers can be freestanding and are sometimes located within retail stores or pharmacies. Urgent care facilities can treat less critical health issues, such as colds, rashes, and sprains. If you decide to visit an urgent care facility, make sure to call ahead to ensure they can provide care for your medical needs and that your insurance will be accepted.

Sometimes it’s hard to recognize the difference between emergency and urgent care. So where should you go?  The American College of Emergency Physicians has developed a factsheet to help you decide on the right place to seek care.  Being informed about the different services offered by emergency rooms and urgent care centers can help you make the best decision to get timely care.

Resources

To locate a hospital with an emergency department near you, click here.

To view average wait times for hospital emergency departments near you, click here.

To find an urgent care facility near you, check with your health plan for a list of locations that accept your insurance.