Here at University of Maryland Medical Center Midtown Campus (UM Midtown), our priority is to treat each patient in our emergency rooms (ER) as fully, safely and quickly as possible.

We want to help you better understand how emergency room visits are handled and the best way to seek the care you need.

Why Is There a Wait at the ER?

Wait times can vary depending on factors such as:

  • Number of patients and how serious their conditions are
  • Number of emergency department treatment rooms available (more patients mean fewer open rooms)
  • Availability of open beds in the hospital (when beds are in short supply, it takes longer for patients to be discharged from the emergency room if they need to stay overnight)
  • Lab results, imaging scans and other testing needed to make a diagnosis
  • Whether an evaluation by a specialist is needed

Because these factors can change quickly, staff members may not be able to tell you how long you may be in the ER.

What Order Are Patients Seen in the ER?

In our emergency departments, patients are NOT seen on a first-come, first-served basis. At all times, even when the ER isn’t crowded or busy, we prioritize patients according to how serious their conditions are.

After checking in at the Registration Desk, the triage nurse will check your condition. People with a life-threatening illness or injury (heart attack, stroke, etc.) are treated before those with less serious conditions. Rest assured that you will be seen as soon as possible.

  • Please do not leave the reception area if at all possible. If you must leave even for a short time, let the reception desk staff know.
  • If your symptoms get worse while you are waiting to be seen, please tell the triage nurse or other ER staff member.

When to Come to the ER (and When to Seek Care Elsewhere)

If you have a condition that is not life-threatening, consider contacting your primary care provider or going to an urgent care center. Find an Urgent Care Center

The emergency room is not the place to get routine testing, such as that for the flu, RSV or COVID-19. Please call your primary care provider or an urgent care center to see if you need these tests and where to get them.


Learn More: When to Go to ER, Urgent Care or Primary Care


Before You Arrive: Please visit our emergency department website to learn more about what services are available

If you are seeking care for a child, before arriving at an emergency room make sure it treats children under age 18. Most of the time, you should call your pediatrician before heading to an ER. Most offices have someone to answer your call 24/7, even on holidays.


Learn More: Should I Take my Child to the ER?


What to Bring to the ER

To help us complete your check-in process, you should bring:

  • Your photo ID and health insurance cards
  • A list of all medications, supplements and vitamins you are currently taking
  • A list of your allergies
  • Emergency contact information
  • Preferred pharmacy phone number and address
  • Legal health-related documents (e.g., an advanced health directive stating what medical care you want for a life-threatening condition)
  • Any personal assistance items you have (hearing aids, eyeglasses, cane, walker, wheelchair, speech devices, etc.)

Wear comfortable clothes, as you may be asked to change into a gown for easier care. You may want to bring something to read or an activity book to help put your mind at ease. Remember to bring headphones and chargers for your phones or tablets.

Which Is Right for You?

  • EMERGENCY ROOM
  • URGENT CARE  
  • PRIMARY CARE 
Learn More