When your child's doctor's office is closed: ER or urgent care?

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TCH helps parents decide between a trip to the ER and urgent care.

When your child is injured or sick, finding medical care quickly is the top priority for all parents.

If it's a holiday, overnight or weekend and your regular pediatrician's office is closed, it's hard to know where to turn to next.

In many cases, parents race to the nearest emergency room but that might not always be the best option for your family. Since more critical, life-threatening cases take priority in the ER, you may face long waits if your child's symptoms aren't critical.

Urgent care offices are available to offer care during those off hours for doctors' offices and ease some of the congestion at local emergency rooms.

But how do you know what's the right place to treat your child?

Texas Children's Hospital (TCH) has some helpful guidelines for you to consider ahead of time so if the need arises you know where to go.

According to TCH, go to the emergency room if your child is suffering from:

- Bleeding that won't stop
- Extensive or complicated cuts or lacerations
- Fainting or head injury with loss of consciousness or disorientation
- Loss or change of vision
- Major fracture that breaks the skin or is at a severe angle
- Seizures without a previous diagnosis or epilepsy
- Serious burns
- Snake bites
- Spinal injuries
- Sudden change in mental state
- Sudden shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Vomiting or coughing up blood

That means, children who need to see a doctor but don't have life-threatening illnesses can often be seen quicker at pediatric urgent care locations.

Your child should go to urgent care if they are experiencing:

- Abdominal pain
- Allergic reactions
- Asthma
- Cough
- Croup
- Ear pain
- Fever
- Flu
- Minor burns
- Minor injuries from falls or sports
- Pink eye
- Rashes
- Simple lacerations
- Sinus infections
- Skin infections
- Sore throat
- Sprains and strains
- Urinary tract infections
- Vomiting and diarrhea

If you are ever in doubt about where to have your child treated, your pediatrician's office will help offer guidance and advice.

Also, TCH provides great information about how and where to get your child the correct level of care in case of any medical need. They even have a helpful print-out.

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Related Topics:
healthhealthchildren's healthTexas Childrens Hospitalmedical emergencyHouston
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