What’s too urgent for urgent care?
It’s happened to us all -- and inevitably in the evening or middle
of the night. Your child is sick. Do you know what to do? Should you wait
it out until morning when you can call the pediatrician or do you rush
them to the closest Emergency Room? Here are some guidelines from emergency
physician Michael Mirhadi, MD of Marshall Medical Center.
It’s hard to know what an emergency is and what can wait. Here are
a few indications that a trip to the ER is necessary:
- Fainting, loss of consciousness, seizure
- Fever in a newborn
- Rapid or difficulty breathing
- Sudden dizziness, weakness or change in vision
- Change in behavior, such as confusion or difficulty walking
- Severe or persistent vomiting or vomiting blood
- Severe or persistent diarrhea or blood in stools
- Vomiting and/or diarrhea with dry lips or mouth and/or decreased urination
- Profuse bleeding or bleeding that won't stop with direct pressure after
- A gaping wound with edges that don't come together
- Problems with movement or sensation after an injury
- A stiff neck associated with fever or headache
- Accidents involving pedestrians or bicycles and cars
- A red/purple rash that doesn't disappear when brief fingertip pressure
is applied to the skin
- A bulging or sunken fontanel (soft spot) in infants
- Sudden severe pain anywhere in the body
- Falls from any significant height
- Mental health concerns
Urgent care is a great alternative to the ER if your pediatrician is unavailable.
If you can’t make an appointment within a day or two for the following
symptoms, head to a nearby urgent care center:
- Fever accompanied by cold symptoms and you suspect it may be the flu.
- Possible ear infection; symptoms include drainage from the ear, ear ache
and pulling on the ears.
- Sore throat with or without white patches on the tonsils, a possible sign
of strep infection.
- Possible pink eye, (red, inflamed eyes with or without discharge).
- A few episodes of vomiting or diarrhea (without blood in the stool) but
has no belly pain or signs of dehydration.
“Generally speaking,” says Mirhadi, “if your child is
able to walk, talk, interact and play, chances are whatever she or he
has is not an emergency and you should make an appointment with your pediatrician.”
But trust your gut, if you feel something can’t wait until the next
available appointment, visit urgent care or the emergency room.