As a parent, you of course want the best for your children. When they’re hurt, you hurt. And when they need more than a Band-Aid and hug, you want to get them the help they need. But where do you take them? Is the emergency room the right choice? How about urgent care? Or should you use your pediatrician’s walk-in care? Well, it depends on what the presenting issue is.
The Differences Between Different Types of Care
When reviewing the walk-in care vs. urgent care vs. ER, it’s important to know what each is. In a nutshell, the more severe the injury or illness, the higher up you’ll escalate treatment.
Walk-in care is provided by your pediatrician. Nearly all pediatricians’ offices have hours set aside for acute injuries and illnesses. This is a perfect first choice when your child has minor issues breathing, cuts, abrasions, a high fever, or other injuries that don’t represent an emergent threat. It’s also a good first call if you’re not sure where to go.
If your child becomes sick overnight, call your pediatrician first thing in the morning to get them seen. You can also call during off hours to speak to the doctor or nurse on call. They can direct you to another option if they feel your child needs to be seen sooner than the next day.
Urgent care is an option when the pediatrician’s office is closed, yet a step down from the ER. This is a great option when you have a sick or injured child who does not have a life-threatening issue. These may include minor burns, bone fractures, allergic reactions, and cuts that appear to need stitches.
Another way some parents use urgent care is when their children are sick during hours their pediatrician’s office is closed. And still others will take their children to urgent care prior to identifying a primary-care physician or when they’re away from home.
Urgent care clinics are often found in strip malls and some pharmacies. They are typically open during regular office hours as well as evenings and weekends. If your child gets sick or injured on a Friday evening and needs medical care—but it’s not severe enough to visit the ER—urgent care is a good stand-in until the pediatrician’s office opens on Monday morning.
Emergency Room (ER)
Children with severe injuries and illnesses should be taken immediately to the ER. These include broken bones, head injuries, severe burns, poisoning, uncontrollable bleeding, a fever in a newborn, and significant trouble breathing. If the injury is life threatening or you, as the parent, do not feel you can drive to the hospital and pacify your child, dial 911 and have an ambulance transport you.
ERs are in all hospitals and deal with varying levels of injury and illness. Some hospitals, such as children’s hospitals, specialize in pediatrics, while others have pediatric specialists on staff or on call. Hospitals never close, so when the other options are unavailable and you are concerned about your child’s immediate care, visiting the ER may be the only choice.
When You’re Not Sure Where to Go
When a crisis occurs with your child, it’s understandable to be panicked. If it’s obvious that your child needs to go to the emergency room, get them there. But if you’re debating between urgent care and walk-in care, a good first choice is to call your doctor’s office.
When you call, you’ll speak to the triage nurse, who will ask you a number of questions about your child’s symptoms. The nurse can then direct you to come into the office or go to urgent care. In some cases, you may be directed to the ER, especially if your child has a high fever that has lasted for a certain duration or if their breathing is severely impaired.
Walk-in Care and Well Child Visits
While you can’t predict everything that might happen to your child, you can help keep them healthy with regular well child visits. Community Choice Pediatrics has been serving Lee’s Summit families since 1984, and we always have your child’s health and wellbeing top of mind. We provide well child visits and, of course, walk-in care.
If you are looking for a primary care physician or have any questions, please contact us to schedule a visit.