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Urgent Care Vs. ER: Finding The Right Care For Your Child

It’s Saturday afternoon and your two-month-old spikes a fever. You are out of town watching your son’s soccer game, when he quickly turns and sprains his ankle. When a child is ill or injured, it is usually never expected. To make things worse, it’s almost always when the pediatrician’s office is closed (chalk it up to Murphy’s Law).

Like most parents in these situations, you may wonder if you should take your child to the emergency department (ED) or the urgent care.

“In many cases, your first stop should be your child’s pediatrician, but all too often injuries and illnesses don’t happen during the hours of 9-to-5.” said Devin Minior, MD, chief medical officer of Banner Urgent Care. “It can often be confusing on where to go. A good thing to remember is that urgent care can handle a vast majority of cases and are a great step between the doctor’s office and the ED.”

Whether it’s the flu or a broken bone, knowing where to turn when your child needs help is information every parent should have. Below, check out where to get the care your child needs if your child’s pediatrician isn’t available. Looking for an urgent care? Visit to find one near you.

Update as of July 22, 2020: Whether you end up in the urgent care or the ER, there are certain things you need to do to keep everyone safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Most likely, you will be asked to wear a mask once you enter the building and for your entire visit.  In addition, some locations may only be set-up to see patients without COVID-19 symptoms.  Regardless of what location you visit, the staff and providers will do their best to make sure you are seen in a safe manner, as quickly as possible.  

Urgent Care vs ER Children

If you think your child has a medical emergency or life-threatening condition, call 911. If you believe your child has been poisoned, call Poison Control at (800) 222-1222.

Children's Health Urgent Care Emergency Parenting