Not all childhood illnesses and injuries can be treated in the office of a pediatrician. There are a lot of problems that come up after hours or on the weekend. You do not want to take them to the emergency room, because there is no real medical emergency, so you want to take them to an urgent care center near you. That is a wise choice and there are things you can do to make the experience better and less scary. Here are a few:
- Take the time to make a list of the symptoms they are experiencing. At home, you may think you can remember all of them but once you get to the urgent care clinic, that may change. Remember, it is always stressful when your child is sick or hurt. To make sure you do not forget anything and you get all of your questions answered, make a list and refer to it when they are being seen by a doctor or other medical professional. They rely on you to know what is going on so they can give you an accurate diagnosis.
- Remember to add your child’s medications to your list. It will help the medical professions help your child if they can see what they may be taking all of the time and what treatments you have already tried. It also helps if you bring the actual medications with you (make sure you bring in over the counter medications and any herbal substances you may be giving them.
- Remember, visits to walk in urgent care centers are for one main issue. Unlike a visit to a primary care physician, a pediatrician, or a family medicine specialist, when you have an urgent problem and go to the emergency room or walk in clinic, this is not the time to ask about all the health concerns you have for your child. The people seeing your child are there to help with the acute problem that brought you in. If your child is sneezing a lot, the time to deal with that is not when they are being seen for a sprained ankle.
- You need an “appointment” for each child you want to be seen. A lot of times, when parents bring one child into one of these clinics for an acute issue, they bring the rest along and ask for them to be seen for small problems. Sometimes parents think it is “no big deal” but it can make everything slow down. If you have two children with medical issues, the better thing is to have them both seen. The average wait time to see a professional at these clinics is 15 minutes. At least 60% of patients are in and out of a clinic like this in less than one hour. Both your children will get better care if they are seen separately.
- If you can, leave the other kids at home. This is not always an option but if you have more than one child and only one is being seen, try to leave the others at home or with a family member or friend. It can be hard to concentrate on your sick or injured child with others to watch and take care of. If you need to bring your other child or children, make sure they are not hungry or overly tired. You can also bring things to keep them occupied.
- Talk to your insurance carrier before you go. Getting medical treatment in an urgent care center is one the most cost-effective ways to get health care when you cannot wait to bring your child to their regular doctor’s office. For that reason, most health insurance plans cover urgent care clinic visits with a lower copayment but it is still a good idea to check before you go. If you have kids, you may want to check before you have a problem.
The emergence of urgent care centers around the country makes getting healthcare for kids on the weekend much easier for everyone — kids and adults need these from time to time. These tips can make your visit go better.