On a Saturday afternoon, "Bethany" falls off her bicycle and hurts her knee. Jane's mother rushes to the playground to check on her daughter and sees that the knee is quickly swelling.
Bethany says she can hardly move her knee. Her mom doesn't think the knee is broken, but she can tell that it is injured.
What should Bethany's mother do?
She can take her daughter to the emergency department or to an urgent care.
The correct answer for the above scenario is the emergency department, but deciding which treatment option is best for their child is a struggle many parents face.
"If your child is having seizures, looses consciousness or has a serious head injury, then the emergency department is the right choice," says Mark Schaffer, MD, a pediatrician at Dayton Children's Soin Pediatric Trauma and Emergency Center.
"But if the child has a cold, minor infection or small laceration [cut], urgent care is a good place to go."
Dr. Schaffer offers these guidelines for choosing between urgent and emergency care.
Dr. Schaffer reminds parents to call 911 if your child is not breathing, having trouble breathing, is seriously injured, is bleeding heavily, or has a life-threatening condition. Do not try to drive the child to the hospital yourself.
Parents also need to be prepared when coming to either the emergency department or the urgent care.
"The most important concern, especially in a true emergency, is not the cost or the wait," Dr. Schaffer says. "It's making sure your child gets the necessary treatment when sick or injured."
The Children's Medical Center of Dayton is the region's pediatric referral center for 20 Ohio counties and eastern Indiana. At Dayton Children's, there is a full-time dedication to caring for infants, children and teens. Specially trained and experienced pediatric specialists in over 35 specialty areas work as a team to make sure the medical and psychosocial needs of children and their families are met. We also have a number of community-based services as well.
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