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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

ASPR Blog Series: Acute and Emergency Care in the United States

Have you or someone you know visited an emergency department (ED), retail clinic, or urgent care center? Or perhaps had a conversation with a clinician after hours or via video chat? If so, you have experienced the acute and emergency care system in the U.S.

The emergency and acute care system cares for patients who are scared, sick, or injured. It is the safety net of the healthcare system because of the responsibility to treat all patients as a result of the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act. Emergency and acute care includes illness, injuries, or exacerbation of chronic diseases. Over one-third of annual patient visits–354 million–are for emergency and acute care, and are treated in hospital-based EDs, free-standing EDs, retail clinics, primary care providers, urgent care centers, and alternative care delivery models (e.g. telemedicine, mHealth).

Over the course of this blog series, we will discuss what the U.S. federal government is doing to help reform emergency and acute care delivery to better meet the needs and desires of the American public. By incentivizing the system and providers to become more patient-centered, better integrated into the broader healthcare system, and improve patient care quality, the emergency and acute care delivery system will be better equipped to provide effective patient care during day-to-day occurrences and public health emergencies and disasters.

Join us for this three-part blog series as we talk about new initiatives and key partnerships that could better strengthen the emergency and acute care system for the American public.

  • This page last reviewed: August 13, 2019