It’s a Sunday fall afternoon, we are in a mountain town in Colorado and our 2-yea-old son falls backward on the corner of a table and splits his ear lobe in half. He’s screaming. My dad is frantically running around telling us to leave right away. But to where?
Luckily Greg was with us and kept his calm, paramedic, let’s-figure-this-out approach. He helped me stay calm enough to calm our son while he searched for the nearest urgent care. We calmly got into the car, buckled up (of course) and Greg calmly drove to get our son’s ear stitched back together.
Seriously, if any injuries happen, I need Greg there. Otherwise I do not stay so calm. I try but… I’m a mom, what can I say.
Along with loving them and having tons of fun together, maintaining your child’s health is one of your primary goals as a parent. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to make decisions in the heat of the moment, especially when a medical issue suddenly rears its head. Your child is crying and the decision falls to you.
If you are able to keep your cool, you can think this out. What kind of injury is it? Do you head straight to the emergency room or go to an urgent care clinic? Which one would be better?
It’s not always easy to tell the difference between the two. After all, both healthcare facilities offer prompt medical care when an urgent health concern occurs. And when your child is wailing because of an accident, it can be even harder to tell whether a simple injury is something more serious.
Luckily, there are ways to determine when a trip to an urgent care center is a better idea than the emergency room. Here are some of the best ways to choose the right place for the right care when your child experiences an urgent health issue.
The differences between the ER and Urgent Care Centers
Both of these healthcare locations offer urgent medical care for children and adults in need. But there are some key differences between the two that should be considered.
You should go to the emergency room when you’re worried that your child’s life hangs in the balance. These locations are designed to treat serious illnesses and those who are experiencing life-threatening medical issues. It’s common for folks to go to the emergency room after getting into a car accident in order to treat any lacerations, head injuries and cases of severe bleeding.
You should also go to the emergency room when someone:
- experiences a stroke,
- shows signs of a heart attack,
- or when severe allergic reactions occur.
Studies from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention note that more than 9.2 million children visit the emergency room each year.
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On the other hand, urgent care centers are meant for non-life-threatening injuries and illnesses. This includes:
- small cuts and abrasions that need stitches,
- minor fractures and sprains,
- cold and flu symptoms,
- and basic diagnostic testing and blood work.
Urgent care centers have longer, more accessible hours than your primary physician. So these locations are the better option for simple, but urgent, health concerns. In fact, around 48% of people go to urgent care clinics because their primary care doctor’s office was closed.
Unfortunately, many families will bring their child directly to the emergency department at the first sign of trouble. They don’t realize an urgent care center would be the better option. Emergency rooms typically prioritize life-threatening cases first. If your child simply needs stitches, bringing them to an urgent care center will be faster and more affordable than the emergency room.
You know your child best
At the end of the day, you know your child the best. If you’re genuinely concerned for their well-being, it’s worth it to take a trip to the emergency room. But in most cases, urgent care centers are more than adept at treating most childhood injuries that occur.
If you are not aware of the nearest ER and urgent care clinics that take your insurance, we recommend you learn that information. Keep it handy. We also recommend when you are traveling with kids to find out where the nearest urgent care clinic is to your vacation location, just in case.
When you’re stuck choosing between an ER or urgent care clinic, rely on this handy guide to help you make more informed decisions.
Guest post by Indigo Urgent Care with additions from Amie Durocher about her experiences
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