Choosing Between ER Or Urgent Care When Your Child Is Sick Or Injured

When your child is sick, you may be tempted to take him or her to the nearest emergency room. Knowing what is an emergency and what can be handled at urgent care can help to ensure your child gets the care needed, and it can also help to keep your medical care costs more affordable. If your pediatrician isn't available, here are a few things to consider when choosing between the ER and urgent care:

Age Of The Child

Some urgent care facilities may not provide care for newborns or infants. This can be because the urgent care isn't staffed appropriately to provide care for such little ones, or it may be that the facility doesn't have the right equipment to care for your infant. You can check the website for your nearest urgent care facility to determine if it takes infants who are sick or injured before making the trip. You may have to take your baby to an emergency room or a hospital that specializes in caring for children.

Type Of Injury

If your child has been injured and you suspect there is a broken bone, a trip to the ER may be the better option. Not all urgent care facilities are equipped with X-ray machines, which means that the facility may refer you to the local emergency room. Children who are exhibiting signs of a concussion, such as sleepiness, confusion, slurred speech, or dizziness, should be taken to the ER as well. For cuts or scrapes that might require stitches, your child may be able to go to urgent care, provided that you are able to stop any bleeding. When in doubt, call the urgent care facility to see if it can provide care for the type of injuries your child has.

Symptoms Of Illness

For life-threatening symptoms, such as difficulty breathing or swallowing, head to the emergency room with your child. These types of symptoms may also be best left to emergency responders, so call 911 if you are concerned that your child's life is at risk. For mild fevers, coughs, or aches and pains, a trip to the urgent care may be more appropriate. Signs of pink eye, a sore throat, or an ear infection can typically be treated at an urgent care facility like

If you are ever unsure about whether or not the urgent care facility can properly care for your child, call first. You may find that the staff can help you to make the right decision.