Nothing slows us down quite like an illness. For parents with sick kids, however, this unexpected development can be particularly stressful. Children can develop symptoms in a short amount of time, leaving parents with concerns if their family needs fast care. And in these situations, you may find yourself considering a late-night visit to an urgent care or emergency room.
Capital Area Pediatrics strives to provide excellent, personal Care for your child in sickness and health. We understand that children often get sick during nights and weekends. We also understand both the stress and the cost involved in decisions to seek medical care outside of normal business hours. To help your family with this major decision, we’ve put together helpful information and guidelines for choosing when and where to seek urgent medical care.
The Emergency Room Is For Emergencies Only.
One of the most helpful things for all parents to remember is that many situations don’t require a trip to the emergency room. In fact, in some situations, the ER may do more harm than good. It may accidentally expose your child to new germs and infections, is often unnecessarily expensive, and usually has a long wait. With this in mind, parents should go to the emergency room when a child:
- Is having trouble breathing, particularly to the point of turning blue.
- Has a seizure that lasts 5 minutes or more.
- Has a severe allergic reaction with swelling and trouble breathing.
- Is a newborn < 4 weeks of age with a fever of 100.4 F or higher.
- Is suddenly not able to speak, see, walk, or move.
- Is extremely confused or disoriented.
- Is seriously wounded or burned.
- Is coughing or throwing up significant amounts of blood.
- Has an obvious broken bone, especially a break that has broken the skin.
- Was injured when falling from a significant height.
Not An Emergency? Call Us Any Time.
Outside of the above situations, urgent care may seem like your first stop for your family’s health concerns. However, it’s actually best to try to contact your pediatric office first.
Should your children fall ill, contact us by phone to determine if a prompt sick visit is needed. Depending on the exact time of your call, all Capital Area Pediatrics patients may take advantage of the following resources:
- Our highly trained triage nurses or on-call physicians are available 24-7 to answer questions and give advice to help your sick or injured child. We can help you decide the next steps and the best level of care.
- We offer evening appointment hours at all of our locations.
- We offer Saturday and Sunday morning hours at our various locations.
- We offer walk-in Express Care at our Herndon location (available 7:30 AM - 9:00 AM every Monday to Friday).
It’s Worth Seeing Us First.
While emergency rooms and urgent care offices can provide fast access to medical help, there are a number of benefits families will enjoy when they utilize their primary care doctor’s services as much as possible. These include:
- Lower costs. Visiting with your child’s primary care physician will be less expensive than urgent care and significantly less expensive than an emergency room visit.
- Personal connection and knowledge. Your regular pediatrician knows your child best. Urgent care doctors can only evaluate what they see in their office; but we can use your child's full medical record to deliver more comprehensive and targeted care.
- Up-to-date medical record. By visiting us for most issues, you allow us to provide your child with continuity of care, specifically in their medical record. This will allow us to follow your child's health needs more closely over time. The more comprehensive that history is, the easier it will be to treat that child in the future.
- Ensure proper pediatric care. While they’re very helpful in certain situations, not all urgent care clinics and emergency rooms take care of children on a regular basis. This can lead to unintentional gaps in care that doctors who specialize in children’s health would not miss.
Call Us For The Following:
From evening or weekend appointments to 24-7 triage advice, Capital Area Pediatrics is here to help your family in the event of acute illnesses or injuries. We encourage you to reach out to schedule an appointment or reach out for guidance on the following and more:
- Fever in any age, with or without other symptoms
- Cough, cold, pink eye, sore throat, ear pain
- Rashes - widespread, localized, itchy or other
- Vomiting and/ or diarrhea
- Minor injuries or falls - including concussion, simple lacerations, sprains, burns
- Any unusual symptom that lasts for more than three days in a row
- Persistent/recurrent pain, such as abdominal pain, stomachache, headache