When children get sick, parents are faced with a dilemma. Should they take their children to the emergency room or an urgent care facility? If you have children, you may want to consider the differences between the two types of facilities before they get sick. This will help you to determine where you should take them to get proper medical care. Use this guide to help make the right decision for your children.
Life-Threatening Medical Emergencies
There are some situations where emergency room care is warranted, For example, if your child has swallowed poison or is having difficulty breathing, the emergency room may be the better option. Remember that emergency rooms are connected to hospitals, giving them a different ability to treat certain types of emergencies. This is particularly important if your child has an issue which might require hospitalization. If you are unsure about whether or not to head to the emergency room in the case of an acute medical emergency, you can call your local urgent care center or emergency room for guidance. The staff can typically help you to decide if your emergency warrants a trip to the ER.
The cost of emergency room treatment over urgent care treatment can be significant. The cost of a visit to the ER without insurance can range anywhere from $150 to $3,000, while a visit to an urgent care center can cost between 20% and 50% of what you might pay in the emergency room. If cost is a concern, and your child does not have a life-threatening condition, you may want to consider heading to the local urgent care facility. If the urgent care facility is closed and you are unsure about whether your child needs to be seen immediately, consider putting in a call to your pediatrician's office. Some pediatricians have answering services that will connect you to an on-call doctor if you have questions.
Urgent care centers can be helpful when your pediatrician's office isn't open or if there are no available same-day appointments. Some urgent care centers have early evening and nighttime hours, which can make it easier for your child to get immediate medical attention for certain issues, such as ear infections, sore throats or high temperatures. Be sure to ask your pediatrician which local urgent care centers he or she is affiliated with, as this will allow the urgent care facility to easily share your child's medical information with your pediatrician.
If you have a young infant, or if your child has a serious medical condition and you aren't sure what to do, remember that you have many ways to seek assistance. You can call 9-1-1, contact the emergency room, call your pediatrician, or call the urgent care center for advice.
For more information, talk with your primary care physician or visit local health clinics, like Rural Health Services Consortium Inc..