Like adults, children can get hurt or become ill, sometimes requiring immediate medical attention. And while you always can – and should – check with your pediatrician before heading to the hospital, many injuries and health scares happen after hours.

Here are a few tips to help you decide whether to take your child to the emergency room or visit your local urgent care. 

In case of emergency call 911

What’s the difference between the ER and urgent care? 

The emergency room and urgent care center are healthcare facilities that treat medical emergencies. In general, urgent care is for minor, non-life-threatening situations, like a bad earache or a sprained ankle. Urgent care centers usually have shorter wait times, and the services tend to be much more affordable. 

The emergency room, or ER, is for crisis situations that call for immediate or advanced treatment, such as head injuries or severe allergic reactions.

Both the ER and urgent care provide excellent care and are well-prepared to handle health issues big and small.

In the event that an urgent care center is not equipped to treat your child’s emergency, they will advise you to go to the nearest ER or help you arrange transportation to get there.  

Consider the following examples when deciding whether to take your child to urgent care or the ER:

Conditions that are usually seen in urgent care clinics

Go to the urgent care center if your child has:

  • A fever (go to the ER if your child younger than 2 months develops a fever)
  • Asthma
  • Wet or dry cough, congestion, or symptoms of the flu or COVID-19
  • A sore throat
  • Ear pain
  • Minor burn
  • Minor cuts and scrapes, including those that require stitches
  • Minor injury from sports or playing, including sprains and strains
  • Pink eye
  • Rash
  • Stomach ache
  • Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
  • Urinary tract infection

Conditions that are usually seen in emergency rooms

Go to the emergency room if your child has:

  • A fever and is younger than 2 months 
  • Hit their head and appears confused, faints, or is overly sleepy
  • Seizure
  • A broken bone
  • Signs of dehydration
  • Swallowed or stuck a foreign object in the ear
  • Severe cuts
  • Bleeding that won’t stop
  • Snakebite
  • Sudden loss or changes in vision
  • Sudden difficulty breathing
  • Severe vomiting or is vomiting/coughing up blood

Urgent Care Centers

For patients of Airline Children & Women’s Health Center, these urgent care facilities are in the area and are open on evenings and weekends. Be sure to say you are a patient of Airline Children & Women’s Health Center and give the name of your provider.