When your child gets sick, all you want to do as their parent is to get them better again. You don't want to make them suffer or feel miserable any longer than you absolutely have to. There are various options when it comes to dealing with your child's illness, and two of them are urgent care and emergency care. They sound like they could be the same thing, but they are not. They are, however, similar. So what exactly are they and how are they different from each other?
An urgent care clinic is often associated with a doctor's office, but it may be a stand-alone clinic. They take patients on a walk-in, first come first seen basis. However, if something that is more significant comes in, that person may jump to the head of the line. For example, if you are there for a fever, but someone who is actively, heavily bleeding comes in, the doctors may take that person back to be seen first. Generally, though, if you are there first, you will be seen first. Your child will get to be seen by a doctor who can diagnose them and prescribe some medications, recommend you see your pediatrician, or go to the emergency room, depending on severity. Urgent care is the best place to go if your child is spiking a high fever, is coughing a lot, or has a sore throat or earaches. If your child is having febrile seizures, this would be the best place to go. It can also be a good place to go if you think you have sprained an ankle, cut your arm, or similar things. These are all things that need to be taken care of quickly, but aren't quite emergencies.
Going to the emergency department should be reserved for things like if you think you are having a heart attack, a stroke, broken bones, extremely high temperature, difficulty in breathing, and bleeding that cannot be stopped or partially severed limbs or fingers. The emergency department is for issues that could imminently kill you if you don't get them taken care of in a timely fashion. Emergency care is usually handled by worst case first, so even if you get there first, if someone comes in with a worse case and triage determines that they need to be seen first, they will take that person back first.
If something happens to your child, you want to make sure that they are treated as quickly as possible. Knowing what urgent and emergency care are can help you make the right choice as to where to take your child.