Your Primary Care Doctor, PromptCare Facility or the ER — Where Should You Go? | MedStar Health

Your Primary Care Doctor, PromptCare Facility or the ER — Where Should You Go?

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The way to receive the proper care when you’re ill is to go to the correct doctor who can best address your health care needs.  Developing a long-term relationship with your primary care doctor is very important, but when you are unable to see them, we present a guide that shows when to use our MedStar Health Urgent Care facilities or our Emergency Department.

When to Go to Your Primary Care Doctor

Unless you are experiencing a traumatic injury, this should be your first choice.  It is important to have a primary doctor and to schedule regular visits, so that physician gets to know you well and can proactively deal with any health problems before those problems advance.  Not only does regularly visiting your primary care doctor keep you healthier, which proves to be more cost-effective over the long-run, your primary care doctor can be a great resource to help you when you are having trouble.

“As primary care doctors, we like to monitor your health, and to guide and steer you in the right direction,” says internist Tara Saggar, MD.  “We always want to know first what is going on, and we can help guide patients and get you the level of care you need.  We’re the goal keepers who know when we can help you, or where we should send you if, for example, you need imaging or certain tests better suited to a PromptCare facility or to the ED.”

When to Visit a PromptCare Facility

MedStar Health Urgent Care is ideal for a range of illnesses that arise outside of your primary care doctor’s office hours, but are not serious enough for an ED visit.  Some examples of PromptCare-treated issues are sports injuries, sprains, cuts and scrapes, and most facilities provide basic lab and X-ray service. 

“We can treat simple colds and sore throats, as well as simple infections, like ear infections,” explains Nosheen Azam, MD, who is stationed at MedStar Health Urgent Care Waldorf.  “When a patient can’t get into their doctor or doesn’t want to wait at an ER, we can treat them for issues like strep, flu and urinary tract infections.  We can also provide urine pregnancy tests and basic blood work to determine whether a patient is low on electrolytes or is anemic.  PromptCare can also treat patients with IV fluids for mild to moderate dehydration.” 

When to Rush to an Emergency Room

For trauma involving your face or head, for open fractures, big lacerations, injuries you believe may require a CAT scan and for any life-threatening emergencies, head straight to the ER.  There, physicians like Michael S. Antonis, MD, can work on the most complex emergency cases, order more sophisticated lab procedures and tests than PromptCare facilities and treat serious injuries 24-hours a day.

“We really want you to be proactive about your health because a primary care physician establishes a relationship with you and gets to know you, your health and your medications,” says Antonis, echoing the message of Dr. Saggar.  “They can always help coordinate care for you, especially when they’re in the MedStar Network.  If you do need to come to the ER, it’s easy for us to call and talk to them and consult with them when they know your history.”  As a safety measure, Antonis also recommends everyone type in a list of all medications and dosages into their cell phones, or to take a photo of the labels on your medications and keep that on your phone in case of an emergency.

Antonis estimates around 250 cases per month that come into the MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center  ED who should have gone to either the patient’s primary care physician or a PromptCare facility.  He estimates that within the next few years, MedStar will be on a completely integrated system which will give ED, MedStar Health Urgent Care, and MedStar physicians instant access to the complete medical records of patients, which enables seamless and accurate ordering, documentation and billing. 

MedStar is proud to provide PromptCare facilities throughout the Maryland/D.C./Virginia area, including the newest locations in nearby Waldorf and Charlotte Hall. 

MedStar Health Urgent Care Waldorf
3064 Waldorf Market Place
Waldorf, MD 20603

MedStar Health Urgent Care Waldorf hours are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends.  You can call 301-932-5960 or visit for more information.

MedStar Health Urgent Care Charlotte Hall
37767 Market Drive
 Charlotte Hall, MD 20622

MedStar Health Urgent Care Charlotte Hall hours are 3 to 11 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekends.  Call 301-290-1499 or visit for more information.