Watching your child suffer for any reason is unbearable as a parent, but sometimes it can be easy to jump to extreme reactions that aren’t strictly necessary. If you’ve ever been compelled to rush your child to the emergency room at the first sign of trouble, the chances are it’s not really an emergency; in fact, 70% of emergency room visits are for non-emergency conditions. Figuring out what is an emergency, what is an urgent problem, and what can be handled at a doctor’s appointment next week is one of those vital things they never teach you about when you become a parent; we’re here to help.

Logic Over Emotion
It can be natural to assume the “better safe than sorry” attitude and head to the ER if you think it’s required, but it’s important to exercise your best judgment and truly think about the situation. If your two-year-old child has a fever and is tugging at their ear, it doesn’t mean they have a life-threatening illness: a trip to a childrens urgent care or setting an appointment with their pediatrician will almost certainly discover they have an ear infection. If your five-year-old is sneezing and running a fever in the winter, they probably just have the flu. 

Emergency Room Risks
Consider the emergency center experience: your already sick child will be surrounded by those who are legitimately having an emergency, not to mention all the germs they’re being exposed to in such a concentrated area. Additionally, since emergency centers treat the sickest, most severely injured patients first, you could have an exceptionally long wait ahead of you, only to hear the doctor tell you this could’ve been handled by a short visit to the childrens urgent care. There usually isn’t a need for both of you to have to go through such a taxing situation.

Urgent Care Risks
On the other hand, knowing when to skip urgent care clinics is important as well. Many urgent cares can treat small, simple fractures, but complete bone breaks need to be seen and treated in a facility that is equipped to handle them. Additionally, if your child is under the age of two and has a fever, that is always an emergency, and waiting can be exceptionally risky.