Disclosure :: This post is sponsored by Ochsner Baton Rouge.
Pediatrician, Urgent Care or Emergency Room?
When a child is sick, all you want is to make them feel better as soon as possible, but you may not know what to do. Should you take your child to the emergency room, urgent care or to see your pediatrician? Here are a few pointers to consider when deciding on where your child should seek care.
Your child’s pediatrician should be your first choice for care because they are familiar with the child’s medical history. Pediatricians, like those at Ochsner Health, offer comprehensive and continuous care throughout a child’s early years and adolescence. Visit your child’s pediatrician for the following:
- Well-infant checks, physicals or yearly check-ups and screenings
- Required immunizations
- Developmental concerns
- Fevers, cold, cough, flu or sinus problems
- Ear infections
- Asthma or respiratory concerns
- Vomiting, nausea or abdominal pain
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Eye problems or vision concerns
- Urinary problems or infections
- Behavior concerns, anxiety and depression
- Unexplained tiredness
- Unexplained weight loss or gain
- Difficulty sleeping
- Medication refills
- Or any concerns you have about your child
Outside of regular office hours or extended hours, the same acute, non-life-threatening illnesses or injuries that you may normally go to your pediatrician for can also be treated at an urgent care facility. An urgent care facility can give you immediate medical attention for common illnesses usually without an appointment or long wait.
If you are unable to see your pediatrician or need immediate attention, you can visit an urgent care for:
- Cold, cough, flu, sinus problems and fever
- Sore throat and strep throat
- Ear pain or infection
- Eye irritation or pink eye
- Urinary tract infection
- Sutures for cuts and injuries requiring casting
- Insect and animal bites
- Rashes and minor burns
- Sprains, strains and possible broken bones (no open wound)
- Minor head injury
- Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea
- Mild abdominal pain
- Mild asthma attack
- Migraine or mild headache
- Allergic reactions or allergies
A visit to the emergency room is warranted for potentially life-threatening illnesses and injuries. Wait times for non-life-threatening conditions could exceed an hour or more in the emergency room. Go to your nearest emergency room for these conditions:
- Fever in an infant less than 1 month of age
- Shortness of breath or a severe asthma attack
- Loss of consciousness or fainting
- Uncontrollable bleeding
- Broken bone (with deformity or open wound)
- Skin color changes like turning blue, purple or gray
- Stiff neck
- Severe abdominal pain
- Severe headache
- No urine output in a child with vomiting and diarrhea
- Chest pain or heart palpitations
- Weakness, slurred speech or confusion
- Abnormal behavior or decreased alertness
- Major head injuries or head injury with loss of consciousness, headache or vomiting
- Severe burns
- Severe pain
- Loss of eyesight
- Suicidal behavior
Still Not Sure? Try a Virtual Visit
If you aren’t sure what to do, online virtual visits are a convenient way to quickly connect with a licensed healthcare provider. Virtual visits give you 24/7 access to care and can be a good substitute for a brick-and-mortar urgent care when your child is extremely contagious or if you’re in a hurry or unable to travel.
Using your smartphone, tablet or computer, you can speak directly with a doctor who will assess your symptoms and give you a recommendation or if necessary, a prescription for certain conditions.
As a pediatrician, I recommend virtual visits for minor illness or concerns. Be aware of limitations of virtual visits as exam is limited and the provider may not have full access to your child medical records. For this type of visits always consider a provider in your medical home.
Dr. Myriam Ortiz De Jesus earned a Doctor of Medicine degree with academic honors from Ponce School of Medicine in Ponce, Puerto Rico. She then completed an internship and residency in General Pediatrics at Tulane University Medical Center in New Orleans, LA. She is board certified in Pediatrics. Dr. Ortiz De Jesus is also a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Her special areas of interest include all areas of general pediatrics and breastfeeding promotion.