Keeping Your Family Healthy And Happy

Faqs About Urgent Care Clinics And Emergency Pediatric Care

What should you do if the pediatrician's office doesn't have an appointment or is closed? Your child won't always get sick, injure themselves, or develop a rash during typical work hours on a weekday. If the issue is severe or accompanied by serious symptoms, go to the emergency room. But if your child doesn't need this type of medical care, an urgent or emergency pediatric care clinic can start the diagnostic process and provide treatment options. 

What Are Urgent or Emergency Care Centers?

Urgent and emergency care clinics are open during on- and off-peak service times. This means you can visit a center on a weekday during the day, in the evening, or on the weekend. The availability of hours makes urgent care an easy alternative for many parents. If your child's regular doctor doesn't have an open emergency pediatric appointment, urgent care offers same-day, walk-in services. This can help your child to find relief, start an antibiotic, or get another type of treatment as soon as possible. You can also use this type of service if it's after-hours, the pediatrician's practice is closed, and the illness or injury isn't an emergency.

Do These Clinics Treat Every Pediatric Problem?

The answer to this question depends on the clinic. According to the Urgent Care Association, in 2019 there were more than 9,200 urgent care types of clinics in the United States with a growth rate of between 400 and 500 new centers annually. The growing number of urgent and emergency care providers means that you have choices. If one clinic doesn't offer a service your child needs, you may find another center nearby that does. Always call ahead to make sure the provider can assess your child's condition, has the right diagnostic tools (such as X-rays or other imaging equipment), and offers the type of treatment your child needs right now.

Many urgent care providers can diagnose common illnesses such as the cold, COVID-19, strep throat, or the flu. If your child has a runny nose, sore throat, cough, low fever, muscle aches, or a mild headache, urgent care can help. But if your child has a high fever, is lethargic (beyond normal fatigue), can't breathe, shows signs of dehydration, is unresponsive, is in serious pain, or has another similarly concerning symptom, contact your local emergency services provider immediately. 

Along with mild illnesses, many urgent care centers can also diagnose and treat minor injuries. These include muscle strains, sprains, some types of simple fractures (such as a broken toe or finger), and wounds that require stitches. Like serious illnesses, severe injuries also require immediate emergency care. 

Can Your Child's Pediatrician Access Test Results From Urgent Care?

Ask the urgent care provider how to forward or send your child's test results, imaging studies, and other records to the pediatrician's office. Your child's regular doctor may need this information to provide follow-up care.