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What Are the Different Types of Children's Urgent Care?

By Kesha Ward
Updated May 17, 2024
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For parents who have had to address the health concerns of a sick child, children's urgent care facilities can be a great resource. Urgent care centers that focus on the specific needs of children are likely to be better equipped to deal with the pediatric issues and needs of young patients. Both ambulatory care centers and physician offices that provide urgent care are designed to address the medical needs of children, and are usually staffed by medical professionals who are trained to look for the symptoms that could be the first sign of a more serious problem. Children's urgent care facilities often provide treatment for conditions like ear or eye infections, fevers, and broken bones.

Urgent care facilities are where medical staff deliver care outside of a hospital's emergency department. A parent might bring a child to a children's urgent care center for an illness that is not so severe that it requires immediate treatment, but which should be addressed more quickly than what might be possible in a regular pediatrician's office. In most cases, children can be seen on a walk-in basis. Many children's urgent care offices are open during normal or extended business hours; for late-night treatment, a patient may have no choice but to be seen at an emergency room.

The goal of children's urgent care centers is to provide prompt care for non-life threatening, acute injuries and illnesses. The medical professionals who work in children's urgent care may be more comfortable working with kids and treating their injuries and illnesses. A child with a cut that needs stitches can usually be treated more quickly at an urgent care center rather than at an emergency room, which may be busy with more serious cases. Most urgent care centers are also calmer and more like a regular pediatrician's office; the noise and crowding that can be found in some emergency rooms could be frightening to a child who is already ill or injured.

Caring for an ill or injured child can be stressful. Many parents find comfort in knowing there are offices and health care professionals dedicated to addressing children's urgent care needs and who have experience working with children. This experience can also help the medical professional talk to and treat a sick child, making the experience less difficult for everyone involved.

In addition to children's urgent care centers and ambulatory care centers, children may be able to receive emergent care at their pediatrician's office. Some physicians set aside a certain number of appointments to address patients' urgent care needs. In order for the child to be scheduled for an appointment, parents may be required to speak with the urgent care nurse, physician, or other medical professional. If the health professional believes the illness or injury requires assessment by the physician, an urgent care appointment will be scheduled.

If a child is severely injured, having respiratory issues, or experiencing a life threatening illness, parents should bypass the children's urgent care facility and immediately take the child to the nearest emergency room. The emergency room is equipped and staffed to properly address a variety of serious health issues. After receiving emergent or urgent care, it is often recommended that parents take a child to his or her pediatrician for a follow-up visit and assessment.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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