Urgent Care v. Emergency Services for Kids

emergency services

Recently opened urgent care centers have increased the number of services that are available for people across the county. Even though some of these centers specialize in pediatric care, many parents are still unfamiliar with the urgent care model. Many end up using emergency services in order to cover their bases. Here’s a quick look at how emergency pediatric care differs from urgent care, and what you can expect from your visit.

Emergency Services

Many parents assume a “better safe than sorry” attitude and will take their children to the emergency room if they aren’t sure what to do. While emergencies for small children are rare, you should always be on the lookout for warning signs. If your child seems seriously ill, is having seizures, has suffered a trauma, or isn’t eating/socializing/playing as normal, it’s a good idea to take them to the ICU. A medical emergency can be frightening for you, the parent, as well as your child, but it’s important to keep calm. Let your child know what to expect from the emergency services, be sure you have your questions answered, and bring books or toys to keep your child occupied during the long wait.

Urgent Care

Urgent care is a great option for moderate medical events, with lower wait times and costs. In the rare event that your child is having a medical emergency, the urgent care staff can transport them to the local hospital. If your child has minor injuries, is sick (Americans catch one billion colds annually), or if you aren’t able to access your normal pedi center, the nearby urgent care can provide the medical treatment your child needs without an appointment.

In Both Instances

You should always call your child’s regular pediatrician if they use urgent care or emergency services. You’ll also want to prep them to talk to the emergency or urgent care staff about their symptoms and feelings. As such, you’ll have to make sure they’re able to focus, so it may make sense not to bring siblings or young family members along. You should also be prepared to discuss your child’s health history and potential allergies with the physician.

It’s always hard for a parent to see their kiddos injured or sick, but the rapidly expanding urgent care services mean that appropriate care is available everywhere. If you do believe that your child is having a true medical emergency, always dial 911 to seek treatment immediately.