It can be tough to know when to go to urgent care vs. your primary care physician. Both are great options for pediatric health emergencies, but there are some key differences that you should be aware of.
Today we will discuss the most common child health emergencies and when you should visit urgent care or your PCP. We will also provide some tips on how to choose the right provider for your family.
Urgent care is a type of walk-in clinic that provides medical care for non-life-threatening injuries and illnesses. Urgent care centers are typically open for extended hours, weekends, and holidays.
Many centers are also located in retail stores or pharmacies. Check with your health care plans to see if they cover services offered by urgent care. Philadelphia, PA is one such location that extends both services for the insured and uninsured.
If your child has a minor injury or illness that needs to be treated right away but is not serious enough for the emergency room, urgent care is a great option. Common conditions that can be treated at urgent care include:
- Ear pain.
- Colds and flu.
- Sore throat.
- Minor cuts and scrapes.
A primary care physician (PCP) is a doctor who provides general medical care for you and your family. Your PCP is usually the first doctor you visit when you are sick or injured. They can also provide preventive care, such as:
- Routine vaccinations and screenings.
- Manage chronic conditions, such as diabetes or high blood pressure.
- Pregnant women can see a PCP who can provide prenatal care.
- For anyone with a mental health condition, your PCP can provide treatment.
- Your PCP can also provide urgent care for minor injuries and illnesses.
How to Choose the Right Provider for Your Family
There are a few things you should consider when choosing between urgent care and your primary care physician.
If your child is injured or falls ill after regular business hours, you may need to take them to an urgent care center that is open late or on weekends.
Urgent care centers typically cost less than emergency rooms, but they can still be expensive if you don’t have insurance. Many primary care physicians accept insurance, so be sure to check before you make an appointment.
Urgent care clinics usually have shorter wait times than emergency rooms. However, if your child’s condition is not urgent, you may be able to schedule an appointment with your PCP.
If your child is sick, there are a few things you can do to help them feel better:
- Give them plenty of fluids: Water, juice, and soup can help to prevent dehydration.
- Make sure they get enough rest: Most children need between nine and twelve hours of sleep each night.
- Monitor their fever: A fever is a sign that the body is fighting an infection. If your child’s fever lasts for more than three days, or if it reaches 103 degrees Fahrenheit, you should call their doctor.
- Use over-the-counter medication: Medications such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen can help to relieve pain and reduce fever. Be sure to follow the directions on the package.
When to Call the Doctor
If your child has a minor injury or illness, you may be able to treat them at home. However, there are some situations when you should call their doctor, such as:
- If they have a fever of 103 degrees Fahrenheit or higher
- If they are having difficulty breathing
- If they are not responding to over-the-counter medication
- If their symptoms last for more than three days
The school year can be a busy time for families. Between homework, extracurricular activities, and doctor’s appointments, it can be hard to keep up with your child’s health. Here are a few tips to help you keep your child healthy during the school year:
- Make sure they get enough sleep: Most children need between nine and twelve hours of sleep each night.
- Encourage them to eat breakfast: A healthy breakfast provides the energy and nutrients that children need to focus at school.
- Pack their lunch: Packing a lunch from home allows you to control what your child is eating and how much they are eating.
- Schedule regular check-ups: Seeing their primary care physician for regular check-ups can help to prevent illnesses and injuries.
We hope that this blog post has helped understand the difference between urgent care and your primary care physician. The urgent care locations can offer a variety of on-call services.
However, you should establish a relationship with a PCP so that they can get to know your child’s health history. This will allow them to provide the best possible care for your child if they become ill or injured. In addition, your PCP can coordinate your child’s care if they need to see a specialist.