ER Vs. Pediatrician Vs. Urgent Care: The Differences


Many children who get sick recover at home, but others may require medical attention. As a parent, you’d want to know what to do should your child get sick. Should you bring your kid to the ER? Should you contact their pediatrician? Is it wise to take your child to pediatric urgent care? Here, we’ll share some answers.

Where Should You Take Your Child for Medical Care?

Your child may experience various health issues as they grow and develop, making it essential to know where to take them for medical care. In recent years, there have been significant advancements and expansions in pediatric healthcare options, making it overwhelming for parents to decide on the best course of action. 

Here are your options:

Emergency Rooms

Emergency departments are designed to treat severe, life-threatening conditions and injuries. When your child requires immediate medical attention, such as difficulty breathing, severe injury, or a high fever that cannot be controlled with medication, visiting an emergency department is vital.

Please remember that emergency departments prioritize patients based on the severity of their condition, so if your child’s situation is not life-threatening, they may experience a longer wait time. In non-emergency cases, you should visit your child’s primary care pediatrician or an urgent care center.

Urgent Care Centers

Urgent care centers are a convenient healthcare option for non-life-threatening conditions that 

require immediate attention. These centers have extended hours, including weekends and evenings, and usually do not require an appointment. Urgent care centers are equipped to handle minor injuries, such as sprains, cuts, and fractures, and illnesses like ear infections, colds, and the flu.

If your child’s primary care pediatrician is unavailable or your child requires immediate medical attention for a non-life-threatening condition, a kids’ urgent care center is a suitable option. However, you should always follow up with your child’s pediatrician after visiting an urgent care center to ensure proper continuity of care.

Pediatrician’s Clinics

Having a primary care pediatrician is crucial for your child’s overall health management. Pediatricians are medical doctors specializing in caring for infants, children, and adolescents. They provide routine checkups, immunizations and are trained to diagnose and treat various common childhood illnesses and conditions. They are also responsible for coordinating care with other medical specialists if your child requires further evaluation or treatment.

When to Bring a Child to the ER

The emergency room (ER) is designed to handle severe and life-threatening situations. Still, not all medical issues warrant a trip to the ER. To help you make informed decisions, we’ve compiled a list of symptoms that indicate it’s time to bring your child to the ER:

  • Allergic reactions
  • Asthma attacks
  • Sudden blurred vision or loss of vision
  • Broken bones or dislocated joints
  • Burns from chemicals, fire, or others
  • Chest pain 
  • Concussion
  • Coughing with bloody sputum
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Difficulty speaking or slurred speech
  • Disorientation or loss of coordination
  • Fainting or loss of consciousness
  • Fever that is over 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit in children less than two months or those with underlying conditions
  • Fever with rashes
  • Large wounds or those that won’t stop bleeding
  • Traumatic injuries 
  • Sudden numbness or weakness
  • Overdose of any type of medication

When to Take a Child to an Urgent Care Center

If you cannot wait until you can schedule a visit to the pediatrician, you can take your child to an urgent care center near you for the following symptoms:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Allergic reactions that are not severe
  • Animal bites
  • Back or joint pain
  • Burning feeling when peeing
  • Dehydration
  • Earaches, sinus pain, or headaches
  • Eye irritation or pain
  • Fever
  • Foreign objects in the nose or ears
  • Nausea, diarrhea, or vomiting
  • Pink eye
  • Sore throat
  • Respiratory illnesses
  • Sprains
  • Wheezing

When to Take a Child to a Pediatrician

You can take your child to a pediatrician for the same reasons you’d take them to an urgent care center, given that you’d take them during regular business hours. Your child should also visit their pediatrician if they have a chronic condition and when they have scheduled wellness checkups and physical exams for school or other purposes.


As much as we don’t want to entertain the idea of our children getting sick, unfortunately, they can get ill or injured. For this reason, as parents or caregivers, we must know when and where to take our children when they get sick or hurt. You should remember the symptoms mentioned above and determine whether it’s best to take them to an ER, a pediatrician, or urgent care.

Your Kids Urgent Care acts as a mediator between a child’s regular doctor and the emergency room. In cases where children fall ill outside of regular office hours or during holidays, parents are relieved of the difficult choice between visiting the Emergency Room or taking no action at all. Visit our pediatric urgent care in New Providence, NJ, for immediate medical attention!

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