Where To Take Your Sick Child: Urgent Care or Emergency Room?

So. Off you go to pick up your child after school.

He’s walking slowly, gets in the car, looks like he feels bad, and is cranky when you ask him about it. By the time you stop at the grocery for just a few things then get home, you check and he has a fever. 99. Just an hour later, his fever is 100.

The first thing you think about is how hard it is to get a same-day appointment with your family doctor and virtually impossible to get one with his pediatrician. And, will he be ok until tomorrow, you wonder, in hopes that you can get him in to see either one?

Why? Why wait when the chances are that there is a doctor-staffed urgent care center in your neighborhood or at least just a short drive away?

Here’s some information that may help you decide what to do and where to go if you find yourself in a similar situation.

First, life-threatening emergencies should always, ALWAYS, be handled in the Emergency Room (ER). It’s also best to call 911 to get there and not drive your child to the ER yourself because life-threatening emergencies may cause breathing difficulties, severe trauma, seizures, allergic reactions, and head or neck injuries and you are not equipped to handle those while trying to drive your child to the ER.

Should your child’s injury or illness be non life-threatening but needs attention quickly, don’t wait until tomorrow for the family doctor or pediatrician to try and work him in over the next day or two. Handle it now by taking him to an urgent care center.

Urgent Care is like going to your family care doctor but with a few added services such as x-rays, lab tests, and other medical services. Here are some of the most common things we treat in children age 6 and older at AFC/Doctors Express Urgent Care:

  • Simple lacerations and wounds (including stitching where needed)
  • Fractures and injuries to arms, legs, fingers, and toes
  • Ear aches, runny noses, cough and fevers, and common pediatric illnesses such as mild asthma attacks (cough and mild wheezing), stomach flu, diarrhea, vomiting, rashes, and strep throat
  • Minor burns

Wait times are usually less than 20 minutes and your child will be seen by a doctor. Here’s what we don’t handle at AFC/Doctors Express Urgent Care because we don’t have the needed specialists to treat these issues:

  • Children under 6 years of age for any medical issue (go to the ER if you have a very young, unimmunized infants, less than 2 months of age, with fever or illness such as vomiting or diarrhea)
  • Children with extensive chronic medical problems – if your child has chronic medical problems, you should have a plan in place with his or her care providers that details exactly what you should do if you need help
  • Children with psychiatric or social service problems
  • Children with dental issues

Please keep in mind that while we are open 7 days a week from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m., we cannot unlock the doors and accept patients before 8 a.m. or after 8 p.m. If you need help after your local urgent care is closed and you do not think you can wait until the next morning to take your child to an urgent care center, your nearest emergency room is the best place to go.

AFC/Doctors Express is staffed with doctors, not nurse practitioners or physicians’ assistants. Our medical staff is highly trained and specifically qualified to take care of urgent, non-life threatening medical needs including administering shots, lab tests and taking x-rays.

 For more informations on us or our services, visit our web site at www.doctorsexpressmemphistn.com.

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