ER vs Urgent Care How to Know Where to Go
You are awoken in the middle of the night by your sleepy daughter; she is complaining of severe stomach pain that is preventing her from sleeping. You and your family are enjoying a barbecue on a beautiful summer afternoon when you immediately recognize the sound of your son crying; he has fallen off of the playground and is cradling his arm. When your child is in pain, every second that goes by when he or she does not get care can feel like eternity. That is why it is so important, whether you are moving into a new neighborhood or are bringing your first child into your home, to know exactly where your pediatric urgent care center is located and if it is one of the 24 hour urgent care locations.
Your community might provide 24 hour urgent care locations, an emergency facility specifically for children, or the local ER might be your closest place for urgent care. Here are the top three things to ask your local emergency care center about before you are in a situation that requires immediate action.
Make sure your pediatric urgent care center takes your insurance. You definitely do not want to come hustling into the emergency room with a child that has broken his ankle only to find out that your insurance provider is not accepted. Find out ahead of time what kind of costs you need to be prepared for so that no financial obstacles get in the way of caring for your child.
If an urgent care center is closer to your home than an emergency room, beware of hours. Depending on the size of your community, a pediatric urgent care center may be only 15 minutes from you, while the local hospital may be almost an hour drive. If that is the case, you should be aware of the urgent care center’s hours; many are not open 24 hours or seven days a week. Do not waste a drive to the urgent center in the case of an emergency if the facility is closed.
Know what injuries are emergency room appropriate. The typical rule of thumb for determining whether or not you should take an injury to is if there is potential for loss of limb or life. If your child is at risk for an amputation or if their life is at stake, that is when you know it is time to make the drive to the emergency room. However, unnecessary trips to the ER, when you could have visited one of the 24 hour urgent care locations, will result in bloated medical bills and long waiting times.