Authored by JoannaRasmuson

My Child Got Hurt—Should We Go to the ER or Urgent Care?

March 15, 2019 | Pediatrics

Young children often can’t explain their pains, so it can be difficult to tell if your child needs to be seen for an injury or if it will resolve on its own. Although many injuries are minor, it’s important for parents to know when they can treat an injury at home or when they should visit a doctor, urgent care or the emergency room for help.

Signs of Serious Injury

Kids are always on the go and often unafraid of the things they don’t realize can hurt them. They are also resilient, and their bodies are prepared to take the brunt of many falls, bumps and bruises. Some injuries, however, may require immediate medical attention depending on their severity:

  • Electric shocks
  • Incidents with firearms and other weapons
  • Choking
  • Burns
  • Falls
  • Broken bones
  • Car crashes or bicycle accidents

If your child has any of the following symptoms following an injury, go to the emergency room:

  • Bleeding that continues even after applying pressure for five minutes
  • Confusion, headache, vomiting or loss of consciousness after a head injury
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Seizures or rhythmic jerking
  • No response or unconsciousness when you speak to them
  • Lips or skin that appear purple, gray or blue

What Parents Can Do

Not all injuries require emergency medical treatment. Depending on the child’s injury and his or her symptoms, parents may be able to go to their child’s pediatrician or an urgent care clinic instead of the ER. Urgent care facilities are equipped to handle mild to moderate injuries, such as:

  • Minor cuts
  • First- or second-degree burns (For burns that result from chemicals or an electric shock, go to an emergency room)
  • Sprains and strains
  • Fractures (call 911 if bones are protruding from the skin)
  • Head injuries including mild swelling, cuts and headache (loss of consciousness or vomiting is a sign of a serious head injury)

Sometimes it can be difficult to know where to take your child for care. If you’re ever in doubt, call your nearest urgent care.


“First Aid: Falls.” KidsHealth.

“When Your Child Needs Emergency Medical Services.” HealthyChildren.Org

“Urgent Care vs. the Emergency Room.” Cigna.  

The Live Better Team


The Live Better Team

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This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.