There are approximately 110 million emergency room visits made annually, but the reality is that not all of them are necessary, especially for your child.
Parents, especially first-time parents, are known to panic at the first sign of a medical problem. And while you don't want to take chances when it comes to your child's health, every pediatrician can tell you countless stories about nervous parents, who after lightly bumping their child's head, convince themselves they've caused permanent brain damage.
So before you rush your child to the emergency room, it's important to consider more cost-effective options. There are an estimated 93,000 walk-in urgent care centers in the United States, and a number of them include pediatric urgent care in their services. Here's what you should know.
What is Pediatric Urgent Care?
Pediatric urgent care is an additional service offered by urgent care clinics that caters specifically to children and the issues they may encounter. There are specific disorders and illnesses that children are at risk of contracting, and only someone highly versed in infant and child medicine should handle them. Your child visits a pediatrician for a reason, after all.
When Should a Child Be Taken to Urgent Care?
A child should be taken to a walk in family care center in the same instances that any adult would be. If a child suffers a cold, symptoms of the flu, fever, or even a twisted ankle, those are all situations that pediatric urgent care is capable of handling. However, if your child can neither walk, talk, nor play, those may be signs of a medical emergency and should be taken care of by emergency services. Similarly, any open or misaligned fractures should be treated at an emergency room immediately.
How is Pediatric Urgent Care Different?
Unlike standard urgent care services, pediatric urgent care facilities usually have a pediatrician on staff to ensure that all patients are receiving the correct treatment for their condition. Because children are subject to different risks, it's important to have someone at the facility who understands their needs specifically.
Benefits of Urgent Care for Your Child
Urgent care services, in general, are far less expensive than emergency room visits and have shorter wait times. In fact, the average wait time at an urgent care facility is approximately 15 minutes, compared to what could possibly be hours spent in an emergency room the waiting room of an emergency room.
While severe situations certainly require emergency treatment, most cases of fever or flu symptoms can be taken care of at an urgent care center. Even things like back to school check ups and vaccinations can often be handled at a pediatric urgent care center.
Illness doesn't always occur at the most opportune times, especially in children. Don't count urgent care centers out when your child falls ill.