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When To Go: Emergency Room vs. Urgent Care

When your child needs medical care and can’t wait until your doctor’s office opens, where should you go? This chart will help you know whether a visit to Urgent Care or the Emergency Room is best.

When to call 911

If you think your child’s life is in danger, call 911. Potentially life-threatening situations may include:

  • Choking or extreme difficulty breathing (anaphylaxis concerns) 

  • Loss of consciousness, severe confusion, or unable to awaken

  • Seizures

  • Bleeding that does not stop

  • Burns to the head or neck

  • A child who is threatening to harm themselves or others

Emergency Room

The Emergency Room can help with serious or severe illnesses and injuries, such as:

  • Asthma attack (severe)

  • Bleeding that won't stop

  • Broken bone (looks bent, curved or deformed)

  • Bronchiolitis (with difficulty breathing

  • Burn (severe)

  • Cast problems (soiled or wet)

  • Cut (severe)

  • Fainting

  • Fever (infants less than 2 months old)

  • Head injury (loss of consciousness or extreme impact)

  • Migraine

  • Pneumonia (diagnosed and with worsening symptoms)

  • Poisoning

  • Seizure

  • Stomach pain (severe)

  • Swallowed object

  • Trouble breathing

Urgent Care

Urgent Care centers are a great option for minor illnesses and injuries. Children's Mercy urgent care providers care for children with conditions like:

  • Allergies

  • Asthma attack (minor)

  • Broken bone (not bent)

  • Bronchiolitis (without difficulty breathing)

  • Burn (minor)

  • Cold

  • Cough

  • Cut (minor)

  • Dehydration

  • Diarrhea

  • Dizziness

  • Earache and ear infection

  • Fever (children over 2 months old)

  • Headache

  • Head injury (no loss of consciousness, minor impact)

  • Insect or minor dog bite

  • Nausea/vomiting 

  • Pink eye

  • Rash

  • Sore throat

  • Sprain or strain

  • Stitches (from minor cut)

  • Stomach pain (mild)

  • Urinary tract (bladder/kidney) infection

Children's Mercy Urgent Care does not provide:

  • Routine physicals

  • Sports or work clearance exams

  • Reproductive health care

  • Foster care placement exams

  • Care for those beyond their 18th birthday

Please contact your child’s physician prior to seeking care at an urgent care center.