Serious injuries and sudden, grave illness should prompt a call to 911 and, likely, a trip to the emergency room. But often, moderate injuries and illness requires prompt treatment, and as every parent knows, these problems often happen on weekends or after office hours.
Urgent care versus Emergency Room
Emergency rooms and urgent care both treat medical problems that need immediate attention, but they specialize in different types and levels of care.
- Urgent care centers, provide medical services beyond ordinary doctor office hours. Is your child’s injury or illness something your pediatrician could treat? If so, an urgent care center might be the right choice. It’s an even better choice if the urgent care center specializes in child and teen care, or has a pediatrician on staff because children react differently to illness and also to treatments than adults.
- Emergency rooms, on the other hand, provide a wide range of comprehensive medical services including treatment for complex, and life threatening events. An emergency room located within a large medical center will also offer access to specialists and surgical treatment. Heart attacks, stroke, or major injuries, among other conditions should be treated right away at an emergency room.
Does an urgent care center have the services and staff I need?
There are many types of conditions that urgent care centers help treat, every day. Some conditions and symptoms are very commonly seen than others. Typically, doctors and healthcare providers at urgent care centers treat patients who come in for:
- Food allergies or food intolerance issues
- Bee stings or insect bites
- Pain in the ears
- Vomiting and diarrhea
- Muscle pains and strains
- Joint pains and swelling
- Scrapes and minor injuries
When you are at an urgent care center, your doctor or healthcare provider may order some imaging or screening tests. Many tests can be done at an urgent care center, just like at the ER. Urgent care centers usually can perform these tests, onsite.
- Urine testing
- Blood testing, including complete blood counts (CBC).
If you have ever gone in to the ER on a busy day you know there can be a long wait time. That makes sense, because ERs must prioritize care serious cases that come in involving traumatic or life-threatening injuries or conditions such as heart attack or stroke must be treated without delay. But if you have a child with a known, moderate problem or illness who needs quickly but it’s not an emergency, the emergency rooms may not be the best place for you.
Urgent care clinics typically have much shorter wait times. They can see you sooner, and take care of the problem so you can get back to your life.
Typically, emergency room treatment can be more expensive that urgent care treatment. Sometimes the difference can be in the hundreds or thousands of dollars. Check with your insurance company to see what’s covered, and what you may have to pay out-of-pocket.
Never hesitate to call 911 or to go to the emergency room! Follow your instinct – either about your health or the health of your child.
If you are familiar with the signs and symptoms your child is experiencing an urgent care center can help you on weekends, or after working hours. Plus, they will send your records to your regular pediatrician for follow-up.
Tots ‘N’ Teens Pediatric Urgent Care in San Antonio is one center helping parents sidestep the overcrowded ER when situations permit. In addition to being more cost-effective, they will save you precious time. Plus, Tots ‘N’ Teens employs board-certified pediatricians who are highly specialized in children’s health care – from caring for tummy aches to muscle strains and sprains. Check-in online, or call 210-267-5411 for more information.