It can be challenging for parents to know when and where to get medical care for their children. Pediatrician offices are generally only open during business hours, but medical care is sometimes needed outside those hours, especially when it comes to children. Fortunately, there are emergency rooms and urgent care facilities that can provide care when you can’t get in with your child’s pediatrician. But sometimes it is difficult to know what type of care your child needs. Is it something that can wait until the pediatrician’s office opens? Is it an emergency or should you take them to urgent care? These are decisions that parents often face. Read on to review some general guidelines to help you decide what type of medical care your child needs.
When to Call 911
There are times when it is unsafe to move a person or the situation is so severe that a person needs medical care ASAP, this is when medical transport is required. In these types of situations, you will want to call 911.
Always Call 911 If Your Child…
- Isn’t breathing or is turning blue
- Is choking
- Is unconscious after a fall
- Is having a seizure
- Is having a severe allergic reaction
- Has a broken bone sticking out of the skin
- Took something that may be harmful and is hard to rouse
- Has a wound that won’t stop bleeding
When To Take Your Child to The Emergency Room
In some cases, your child may need immediate medical care but does not need medical transport. If your child is stable enough and it is safe, driving them to the ER may be the best option.
Take Your Child to The ER If They Have One of The Following Conditions and Is Able to Be Safely Moved Without the Need for Medical Transport:
- Trouble breathing
- Unusual sleepiness or confusion
- Stiff neck and fever
- Continuous fast heartbeat
- Ingested a poison, drug, or unknown substance and is still alert
- Possible Concussion
- Eye Injury
- Serious Burn
When To Call or Make an Appointment with The Pediatrician
With general health concerns, ailments, and non-emergencies call your pediatrician’s office. Depending on what the concern is they may advise you over the phone or have you make an appointment to be seen.
Call Your Pediatrician for Medical Issues Such As:
- Ear pain
- Cold symptoms
- Skin conditions
When To Use Urgent Care
Urgent care is great for when your pediatrician’s office is closed but your child needs medical care soon. They can treat the same conditions as your pediatrician’s office. Some urgent cares may also have the ability to do X-rays for simple injuries.
When In Doubt
When you just aren’t sure where to take your child for medical care, call ahead to the facility and let them know what is going on. They will be able to let you know if they handle the issue your child is experiencing or they may advise you to use a different level of care.
- Cronan, K. (Ed.). (2019, October). When and where to get medical care (for parents) – nemours kidshealth. KidsHealth. Retrieved January 12, 2023
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