It is every parent’s highest priority to keep their child safe and healthy. For this reason, it is utterly unnerving when your child exhibits concerning health symptoms. Thankfully, our modern medical infrastructure makes emergency care available immediately in frightening circumstances. However, in order for emergency rooms to function properly, they should be reserved only for emergencies. Often, emergency rooms find themselves overfilled with non-emergency care, sometimes preventing life-threatening situations from receiving the immediate attention needed. Studies show that 78% of emergency rooms have to sometimes board patients in hallways until beds are available.
Knowing what situations to take your child to the ER and when to take your child to urgent care or a traditional health clinic for children can save lives by getting your child the proper attention when necessary, and ensuring you are not occupying emergency care when someone else needs it.
When to Take Your Child to ER
The emergency room should be reserved strictly for life-threatening circumstances. If you believe your child’s health is eminent danger, the best way to get immediate care is by dialing 911. A few circumstances in which you need to get your child to the emergency room immediately include:
- Your child is struggling to breath.
- Your child suffered severe trauma or is bleeding profusely.
- Your child experienced a seizure.
- Your child has a head or neck injury.
When to Take Your Child to an Urgent Care Health Clinic for Children
If your child’s health condition is not life-threatening, but requires medical attention sooner than your family care physician is available, an urgent care clinic is your best bet. Most urgent care walk in health clinics can provide any service that a your pediatrician offers, as well as additional services for critical health issues. In addition to keep ERs open for emergencies, you might find urgent care preferable because the wait time is usually less than 15 minutes, and the visit costs a fraction of the cost to visit an emergency room. A few common issues that urgent care clinics provide treatment for include:
- Lacerations and non-emergency wounds
- Fractures– many after hours urgent care facilities provide x-ray services and fracture care.
- Common pediatric maladies– ear infections, flu symptoms, non-critical fevers, strep throat
- Conditions that require immediate lab work or prescriptions
When to Take Your Child to a Pediatrician
Your family care physicians will have the best grasp of your child’s health history and medical needs. If the medical issue your child is experiencing does not require urgent attention, it might be beneficial to visit your own doctor. Particularly if your physician provides care at a health clinic for children, your child might be most comfortable in a setting they are familiar with. A few circumstance that your child should receive medical attention, but it might best to see your own doctor include:
- A wound that is showing early signs of infection
- A persistent, low-grade fever
- A minor wound or burn that doesn’t seem to be getting better after a few days of home care
Have you ever had to choose between taking your child to an emergency room or urgent care clinic? Do you have any advice to help other parents in your position? Please leave us a comment with your input.