Our Guide to Choosing Between Urgent Care and a Pediatrician

kid with doctor

A parent’s worst fear is sickness or injury befalling their child. When a child’s condition is so severe that home remedies aren’t improving their condition, parents are faced with a difficult choice: Should they bring their child to urgent care or a pediatrician?

For many, the easy answer is to seek help from their child’s pediatrician. They have complete medical records of the patient, and they specialize in diagnosing and treating illnesses in children. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to get a same-day appointment with any pediatrician, let alone the one their child has gone to for years.

Pediatric clinics are busy year-round, and clinic hours are strictly appointment-based. For this reason, some parents opt for a more straightforward solution—a trip to urgent care. This at least ensures that a medical professional will be present to check their child and provide the necessary treatment they need.

Not All Illnesses Are Emergencies

You can’t really begrudge a panicked parent’s choice to bring their sick child to the emergency room. After all, it’s better to be safe than sorry. The earlier a nurse or doctor can diagnose their child’s condition, the better it is for their health.

The truth is, many situations and illnesses don’t warrant a trip to the ER. And while the urgent care system ensures patients will be looked over within the day, an ER is not the best place for sick children. In addition, the ER is a potential source for very bad infections from other sick individuals.

A trip to the ER can also cost much more than a trip to a specialist. More often than not, you will not be able to save time during peak hours, either. This is because ER professionals prioritize the sickest patients and the most urgent cases. If your child only has mild to moderate symptoms, you may have to wait several hours before a doctor can attend to your child.

When to Head to the Emergency Room

Of course, there are many situations where a child’s illness or injury warrants a trip to urgent care. Here are some of them:

  • When a child has had a seizure
  • When a child hits their head and loses consciousness for a few seconds
  • When a child is having difficulty breathing
  • When a child seems to have broken a bone (visible swelling or unevenness in the injured area)
  • When a child has gaping injuries or lacerations
  • When a child exhibits signs of dehydration (very dry lips, lethargy, no urine output for over 12 hours)
  • When a child has belly pain and has experienced several episodes of vomiting or diarrhea

If the child is able to breathe, talk, walk, or play, there’s a good chance that their illness is not an emergency. For your peace of mind, you can call your local urgent care facility to describe your child’s symptoms. Urgent care personnel can urge you to bring them in for treatment.

If you can’t bring your child to the pediatrician within 24 to 48 hours after flu symptoms, an ear infection, a sore throat, or pink eye, you should consider urgent care as well.

Conclusion

When your child is sick, you must determine several considerations like what treatment can you provide from home, if you should make an appointment with their pediatrician, and if the symptoms are serious enough to warrant a trip to urgent care. Of course, no one will begrudge your anxiety as a parent, but it’s also important to keep a level head. If you need help analyzing the severity of the symptoms, a quick call to a nearby urgent care facility will help.

Your Kids Urgent Care provides top-notch urgent care for babies, toddlers, school-aged kids, and even young adults up to 21 years of age. Our facility was created and functions specifically for children. If you need children’s urgent care in New Providence, NJ, you can call us at (877) 466-7946 or save a spot online.

 

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