by
Alex Schultz

Urgent Care or Emergency Room?

“Do we need to go to the Emergency Room?” It’s a dreaded, but not uncommon question of parenthood. Do you know what qualifies as an emergency and what a Pediatric Urgent Care can handle? Here are some points to consider.

Ambulances can travel and deliver care faster than you can drive to the Emergency Room. Sometimes it is safer not to move your child. Call 911 immediately in these situations:

  • Severe respiratory distress where your child begins turning blue or is gasping for breath
  • Broken bones that poke out of the skin, cause uncontrollable pain or that involve the head/neck/spine
  • Seizures lasting longer than 3-5 minutes or that result in severe respiratory distress
  • Falls from a significant height where you suspect head/neck/spine injury or internal trauma
  • Uncontrollable bleeding
  • Poisoning where child is unresponsive

Ingestions that don’t seem to be causing an immediate emergency can be handled by calling Poison Control. The number for Poison Control is 1-800-222-1222.

Other reasons to travel to an Emergency Room include the above (if you think it is safe to move your child) and some other conditions that will be beyond the scope of care a Pediatric Urgent Care can offer:

  • Broken Bone (bone sticking out of skin or severe swelling/clear misalignment)
  • Concussion (extended loss of consciousness, vomiting, irritability and/or disorientation)
  • Burns (severe)
  • Dehydration accompanied by lethargy and confusion
  • Eye Trauma (severe)
  • Fever (rectal temperature of 100.4F or greater in infants less than 60 days old)
  • Large Facial Lacerations
  • Poisoning
  • Seizure (if your child has never had a seizure before)
  • Swallowed Batteries or Magnets
  • Testicular Torsion
  • Uncontrollable Bleeding

The majority of illnesses and injuries can be handled by a visit to a Pediatric Urgent Care. These include:

  • Allergies
  • Asthma/Wheezing
  • Burn (small)
  • Cast Problem
  • Cold
  • Cough
  • Cuts and Stitches
  • Dehydration
  • Diarrhea
  • Ear Ache
  • Eye Problems
  • Fever (infants older than 3mo)
  • Foreign Object Removal
  • Minor Fractures
  • Headache
  • Minor Head Trauma/Concussion
  • Insect or Minor Dog Bite
  • Incision and Drainage
  • Rash
  • Sore Throat
  • Sprain or Strain
  • Stomach Aches
  • Urinary Tract Infection
  • Vomiting
  • X-Ray

A good rule of thumb is, if your child is able to engage with you, move independently and play, a Pediatric Urgent Care will often be the right choice for care. Don’t forget - when in doubt, you can always call ahead to get a recommendation for where to go.

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