700 Children's® – A Blog by Pediatric Experts

Urgent Care for your Child? Making the Choice During COVID-19

Nov 16, 2020
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Children get sick or hurt every day, even during a pandemic. Parents may be hesitant to use Urgent Care facilities during this trying time, but health and safety is what we do! Our Urgent cares have made changes like masking, limiting visitors and, when necessary, COVID-19 testing prior to tests and procedures to keep us all safe.

Unless your child is facing a life-threatening problem, start with a call to your child’s doctor. The person who cares for your son or daughter on a regular basis can help you choose the best course of action. Perhaps there is something you can do at home or maybe an office visit can wait until tomorrow. It’s possible your child needs emergency help right away. Then again, an urgent care visit might be the right fit.

The best urgent care for kids is the one designed especially for them. Children are not little adults and they deserve special care from providers with pediatric training and expertise. Urgent care centers are great when same-day treatment is needed for conditions like these:

  • Mild allergic reactions (rash)
  • Mild asthma attacks/difficulty breathing
  • Small broken bones
  • Small burns or cuts
  • Fever
  • Rashes
  • Sore throat 
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Ear infections

How can you tell if an urgent care center is a good fit for your child? First, plan ahead. Which urgent care centers are close to your child’s home or school or ball field? Do they have doctors or nurse practitioners or both? What about the ability to run lab tests or take x-rays? Once you’ve identified the options, ask your child’s doctor about each facility before an illness or injury strikes. Your doctor will have the inside scoop on each option and will be able to steer you in the right direction.

Second, when illness or injury does occur (unless you are dealing with an emergency), talk to your child’s doctor again. Even if the office is closed, there should be someone on-call to field your question. Is this something that can wait until Monday morning, or does your child need to be seen right now? Again, the doc who knows your child best is the right one to ask.

At the end of the day (literally), urgent care centers can save you from a frustrating wait and they can provide the right diagnosis and the right treatment plan soon after your child’s illness or injury begins. 

Trips to the emergency department should be reserved for those with significant illness or injury. If in doubt, your child’s doctor can help you decide. If your child’s condition appears very severe or life-threatening, be sure to call 911.

Urgent Care or Emergency Room?
For more information on when to seek appropriate care, click here.

Featured Expert

Nationwide Children's Hospital Medical Professional
Mike Patrick, MD
Emergency Medicine; Host of PediaCast

Dr Mike Patrick is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the Ohio State University College of Medicine and Medical Director of Interactive Media for Nationwide Children's Hospital. Since 2006, he has hosted the award-winning PediaCast, a pediatric podcast for parents. Dr Mike also produces a national podcast for healthcare providers—PediaCast CME, which explores general pediatric and faculty development topics and offers free AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™ to listeners.

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700 Children’s® features the most current pediatric health care information and research from our pediatric experts – physicians and specialists who have seen it all. Many of them are parents and bring a special understanding to what our patients and families experience. If you have a child – or care for a child – 700 Children’s was created especially for you.