Emergency or Not? What to do when you can’t decide

This week’s blog post is written by my GORGEOUS cousin – “Doc M”.  She is a Family Practice-trained Urgi-care physician and Mama to two BEAUTIFUL little girls. That means you aren’t just getting medical advice from this professional…but realistic mama advice as well! Enjoy!

Urgent and Express Cares

Urgent and Express Cares are great places to seek medical care, in general. These function on a walk-in basis, which is fantastic when your little one has a problem that can’t wait for the “next available appointment”. However, there are some important things to keep in mind when deciding when and where to take your baby for medical care.


As a Mommy and Urgent Care Physician, I love Pediatricians! By training, they are experts in diagnosing and treating kiddos, and they are nothing short of amazing when interacting with the little ones.

Children are NOT just “tiny adults”, and your Pediatrician certainly knows this.

Most Peds Nurses are great at triaging, and they can answer your questions and send you in the right direction over the phone.  Pediatrician offices are super friendly and accommodating, as the providers will often squeeze a patient in for a quick sick visit if needed. Some even set aside specific time-slots for same-day visits. I mean, who knows your child, health-wise, more than their Pediatrician?

CALL the Urgi-Care Center FIRST:

Most Urgent/Express Cares have extended hours, but unlike Emergency Rooms (ERs), they do close. Check on the hours of operation.  

Also, some of these facilities have limits on the ages of patients they are able to see. For example, one site might see infants 6 months and older, while others are limited to 2 years and up. Obviously those two examples wouldn’t help much if you have a 2 week old newborn. Don’t get frustrated though. Those regulations are set in place, usually by administration, to ensure that the patient is getting the best, most appropriate care.

As a general rule, if a newborn develops a fever, they should be seen by their Pediatrician or in an ER as soon as possible to be sure it is not a serious infectious cause (often they will need what is called a “septic work-up”). Typically this cannot be done in an Urgent Care, as they often do not have the equipment or the appropriate accommodations.

Most of the time you can check online to see a specific site’s hours, age ranges, capabilities (i.e., can the site draw blood, do X-Rays, etc.?), and directions to the location. Some online sites even give you current wait-times. Just keep in mind that some websites are not up-to-date, so call to be sure!


The internet is a wonderful thing…most of the time. There is a ton of information out there and sometimes typing symptoms into a search engine yields some scary and misleading results (for kids and adults alike). While staying informed and educated is important, I advise proceeding with caution. I realize the irony as you are reading this online!In short, take online info with a grain of salt, and know that NOTHING you read can substitute for genuine medical recommendations from a phone call or visit to the Doctor’s office.


It’s pretty amazing as a new parent, one moment you are this adult, with the responsibility of taking care of yourself and helping out your spouse or maybe your immediate family from time-to-time. The next moment, you are staring at this miracle, a tiny, helpless little human being that is looking to you for …everything.  Aside from the normal fear, this moment also engages what I can only explain as an evolutionary parental instinct. That unconditional love and urge to protect this offspring of yours. With that in mind, go with your gut.  

If something feels off with your little one, check their temperature (rectal thermometers are best; I know, no one wants to put their kiddo through that, but they are the most accurate), and call.

Call your Pediatrician’s office, even if it is after-hours most offices have a nurse-on-call, or can page the Doctor if needed. Or check the back of your insurance card for a phone number to call for medical questions. This is usually a 24/7 service. In short, trust your instincts, and seek some sort of medical advice if you feel like something is just not right.

In Case You Missed It

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