Emergency Care vs. Urgent Care: Know Where to Go

Emergency Care vs. Urgent Care: Know Where to Go

When the unexpected happens, it is important to know where to go. As a parent or guardian, it may be easy to think an emergency room is the first place to go. In fact, more than half of the visits to an emergency room are often for non-emergencies. Often, these childhood injuries and illnesses can be handled at an urgent care.

If your child is experiencing a medical emergency – such as difficulty breathing or severe bleeding – ALWAYS call 911 or drive to the emergency room, if you can do so safely. For other injuries and illness, here are some guidelines to help you know if emergency or urgent care would serve you better.

Know When To Go An Urgent Care

Urgent care facilities are great options when your child’s primary care doctor’s office is closed or you cannot get an appointment quickly. Oklahoma Children’s Hospital – Kids First Urgent Care clinics are open weeknights from 5 p.m. until 10 p.m., and on the weekends.

A visit to an urgent care is ideal when an injury or illness is not life threating, but cannot wait until you can see your child’s doctor. Examples of reasons to visit a primary care doctor include:

  • Asthma therapy
  • Allergies or minor allergic reactions
  • Broken bone evaluation
  • Colds and flu
  • Ear pain
  • Insect bites and stings
  • Minor cuts and burns
  • Poison ivy
  • Strep throat
  • Sports injuries, like sprains or strains
  • Urinary tract infections

At Kids First Urgent Care Clinics, we offer on-site X-ray and laboratory testing. In addition, the providers at our clinics are pediatricians, so they specialize in children.

Consider Virtual Urgent Care

Sometimes, your child’s symptoms can be addressed through a virtual urgent care visit. Oklahoma Children’s Hospital offers pediatric virtual urgent care. You can begin a visit at oklahomachildrens.org/virtualcare to address symptoms such as:

  • Allergy
  • Athlete’s foot
  • Common cold
  • Eczema
  • Head lice
  • Impetigo
  • Medication refill
  • Pink eye or stye
  • Ringworm
  • Skin rash
  • Sinus infection
  • Sore throat
  • Swimmer’s ear

Know When to Seek Pediatric Emergency Care

When your child is seriously ill or injured, it can be a terrifying experience. It is important to know the nearest emergency departments to your home, school and work, so you are always prepared.

The emergency department at Oklahoma Children’s Hospital is Oklahoma City’s only 24/7 dedicated pediatric ER, with doctors and staff who specialize in the care of children. It is also home to the state’s only level I pediatric trauma center, which provides the highest level of care for the most serious injuries.

Reasons to take your child to the emergency department may include:

  • Bleeding that will not stop
  • Blue or purple lips, fingers or toes
  • Breathing problems, like shortness of breath
  • Eye injuries
  • Fever in infants younger than 8 weeks old
  • Head injuries
  • Persistent vomiting or concerns for dehydration
  • Severe allergic reactions
  • Severe burns
  • Spinal injury
  • Uncontrolled pain

The emergency department at Oklahoma Children’s Hospital is located at 1200 Children’s Avenue in Oklahoma City. It can be accessed from the north side of the hospital on NE 13th Street, directly east of Children’s Avenue. Park in the ramp and look for signs for Emergency.

Don’t Forget About Your Child’s Pediatrician

It is so important for your child to have their annual wellness check-ups and use your child’s pediatrician for questions, concerns and illness. Your child’s doctor should know your child’s medical history and is a great resource for providing care when they become sick or ill.

Most pediatricians try to get your child treated right away, or will provide an after-hours number you can call.

We Expect the Unexpected

With the most comprehensive range of care available from skilled pediatricians with years of experience, Oklahoma Children's Hospital has new services for the fastest response to children's specific healthcare needs.

View Urgent Care Locations
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Dr. Ryan BrownThis article was written with help from one of our pediatric emergency experts, Ryan Brown, MD, to discuss when children should go to the urgent care vs. emergency room. For more information about our urgent care or emergency services, please visit Urgent Care for Children or Emergency Care for Children.