This month we’re celebrating our first year of business here at AFC urgent care in Braintree.  One of the unexpected pleasures of opening our center has been getting to know our local communities and their families, and helping them to answer their pressing healthcare questions.  One of those questions that we get asked a lot is “when should I use Urgent Care vs. the Emergency Room for my child?” 

I have four children, and have been blessed that they are not accident prone.  It may help that they are drawn more towards indoor hobbies, where the worst they usually suffer is a severe paper cut.  But here in Boston, where sports and our sports teams occupy the majority of our children’s’ waking hours, the risk of frequent trips to the doctor to treat your budding Tom Brady are a common occurrence.  It is no mystery why you can’t go a block without hitting a pediatrician’s office. 

Like us, I’m sure you love your pediatrician, but as you know, there are times when you can’t always see them, whether it’s because it’s after hours, it’s the weekend or they’re on vacation.  And you don’t feel you need to, or want to, spend your afternoon at the sideshow that is your local ER.  That is when you should be thinking urgent care.  For the majority of the day-to-day injuries and illnesses that go along with raising a child, urgent care is a perfect solution.  And you and your child can be treated for a fraction of the cost and wait time of an ER.

So back to the original question…”when should you use urgent care vs. the ER for your child?”

First, the general thing to keep in mind, is that urgent care is not a replacement for true emergency care.  Whether you are inquiring about yourself, or especially your child, the first question you should ask yourself is whether or not the situation is life-threatening.  If so, call 911, and get to the ER as quickly as possible. Period. 

But what if the situation isn’t life threatening, what then?  Again let common sense be your guide.  If your child is very ill, with an extremely high fever, or you feel they may need a complicated procedure, your parental instincts should be telling you the obvious, “Go to the ER!”

But for ear infections, minor burns, diarrhea, sore throats, fevers, infections, stitches, strains, sprains, etc., AFC is a great choice.  We have a lab and x-ray on site.  We are only staffed with Board Certified physicians, all who have pediatric experience. We are open seven days a week, including most holidays, extended hours and weekends which, coincidentally, is exactly when your child usually decides to get sick or injured.  And we’re conveniently located next to the South Shore Plaza.

Hopefully, this starts to give you a good idea of why and when urgent care is right for your child.  You can also visit our website for a full list of our urgent care services. Our friendly staff will be happy to help you with your pediatric questions.