Doctor’s Office, Urgent Care or Emergency Room: What’s the Right Choice for Your Child?

Doctor high-fiving a young patient with shin injury

It’s 5:30 p.m. on a Friday, and instantly your toddler’s sniffle turns into a raging fever, or probably your 11-calendar year-outdated gets damage at soccer exercise. You know they have to have medical care, but it can be complicated to determine out the correct spot to get your child. Do you go to the emergency place, an urgent treatment middle, or the pediatrician’s business office?

Pediatrician Lauren Strelitz, MD, of Bayside Healthcare Group – Pinole sheds some mild on the variations among the a few to enable you make the ideal decision for your child’s well being. Dr. Strelitz also explores this topic in a HealthTalks podcast.


In general, your child’s pediatrician must be your initially prevent when it comes to receiving the ideal health care care. In addition to normal business hrs, Stanford Medicine Children’s Well being also gives just after-several hours virtual care through the week and on Saturdays, Sundays and holiday seasons. With Immediately after-Several hours Virtual Treatment, you can schedule exact-day and weekend appointments.

“There are a lot of matters that would be superior served in the pediatrician’s place of work rather than the crisis area or urgent treatment,” Dr. Strelitz reported. “In the pediatrician’s business office, you may possibly be ready to get back to a place quicker, and you can perform with someone who appreciates you and your family members.”

Signs that your youngster demands to go to the ER

Sad to say, little ones have an uncanny knack for getting sick or injured outside of normal place of work hrs. In that circumstance, you will have to make your mind up in between the crisis room, which is geared up to deal with major, lifetime-threatening disorders, and an urgent treatment center, which is intended to deal with non-life-threatening diseases and injuries.

In accordance to Dr. Strelitz, if your kid is exhibiting any of the next indicators, an fast unexpected emergency place visit is warranted:

  • Problems breathing
  • Acting confused or out of it
  • Not obtaining urinated at minimum three moments in a day
  • Signals of a critical allergic reaction: issue respiratory, lip inflammation, tongue swelling, full system rash, vomiting, diarrhea
  • Serious head harm
  • Not able to swallow
  • Injury from a car accident
  • Extreme vomiting: not capable to retain everything down in excess of the class of the working day, or vomiting blood or a grassy environmentally friendly substance
  • Promptly expanding masses or bacterial infections on the pores and skin
  • Stabbing or gunshot wounds

For everyday living-threatening emergencies, you’ll need to go to the closest emergency room out there. However, for fewer urgent concerns, Dr. Strelitz endorses that family members look for a pediatric crisis home, these types of as the Stanford Medication Pediatric Crisis Section.

“A pediatric crisis space is always heading to be best. Young children are not just tiny older people. There are nuances to treating youngsters,” she stated. “The elegance of a pediatric unexpected emergency room or pediatric-unique urgent treatment is that they have the encounter and means to deliver treatment specific to young children and family members.”

The crisis home may perhaps be the greatest alternative even when the circumstance is not existence-threatening since physicians in the ER, specially a pediatric ER, will have the abilities to tackle delicate injuries, this sort of as wounds to the encounter.

“Even while a minimize on the brow or anything is not existence-threatening for a boy or girl, that is a thing that really should go to an unexpected emergency home, until you have an more mature teen,” Dr. Strelitz stated. “Because if they require stitches, they may need to have to be sedated. And even if they’re not going to be sedated, they may well have to have to be restrained, and the pediatricians and the nurses in people options know how to do that in a way that’s safe for the child.”

If you do conclude up in the unexpected emergency home, you could be there for a lengthy time. Waiting is really hard, and that is doubly legitimate for youngsters. Assistance them get comfortable by bringing some snacks and ease and comfort objects from property to relieve the wait around.

“Bring treats, convey foodstuff, deliver coloring textbooks, bring an iPad if that’s a little something your loved ones makes use of,” Dr. Strelitz explained. “Anytime you go to the ER, be prepared for a hold out. Assume of it as while you have been using your boy or girl on an airplane or on a journey. What things would you use for a long, hard excursion to continue to keep them entertained? Those people are the things to contemplate when likely to the ER.”

When to go to urgent treatment

If your child demands health-related treatment outside of standard organization several hours, an urgent care facility might be an selection. Probably candidates for a excursion to urgent care incorporate colds, sprains, or other insignificant issues that are not life-threatening but need professional medical attention.

On the other hand, not all urgent treatment offices have the identical sources. It’s important to know right before you rush about to the closest area if they have the team and machines your kid requirements.

“Every urgent care has diverse capabilities. It is always worthwhile to contact and verify what and who they have there,” she spelled out. “First of all, is there a pediatrician there? And then what gear do they have? For instance, if your little one appears to be like they have a damaged bone, does this urgent treatment have x-ray abilities? If the x-ray is beneficial for a fracture, do they have the means to area a splint?”

Be prepared for an crisis

Despite the fact that you just cannot predict particularly when an emergency will take place, odds are great that if you have little ones, there will be just one eventually. Dr. Strelitz indicates a couple actions that mother and father can just take to be ready ahead of an unexpected emergency strikes, these kinds of as obtaining a to start with help package at property and/or in the automobile and having a CPR training course.

She also indicates that households talk about emergency care with their child’s pediatrician through a properly go to to get suggestions for community services that can take care of pediatric issues.  

“When you create treatment with your pediatrician or when you have a well verify, check with them what they advise,” she stated. “Your child’s pediatrician appreciates what the community methods are, and they may perhaps even have a checklist of urgent cares that they propose that people take their young children to.”

What ever alternative you pick, Dr. Strelitz emphasised the importance of preserving calm so that you can assistance your little one via the predicament. “You can commence by acknowledging how your child is feeling, like, ‘I can see that you are in suffering. You are obtaining a hard time, and we’re likely to get some help,’” she explained. “I feel we have to acknowledge how young ones are experience since their thoughts are legitimate, and we want to make them come to feel safer. Stress and anxiety can be contagious, so put on a calm, supporting front to support assistance your baby.”

For more advice from Dr. Strelitz, browse Teen Psychological Health and fitness Throughout Pandemic and Guidelines for a pleased, wholesome holiday getaway year. Or, master more about Protecting against and Dealing with Fractures (Broken Bones).