SSM Health Medical Minute – Urgent Care v. ER: Where to take your kids for health emergencies

Medical Minute

ST. LOUIS – How do you know when the health issue your child is facing requires a trip to the ER? 

As a general rule, urgent care is for minor, non-threatening situations and the ER is for crisis situations. But there are other differences as well.

Karen Litteken, the Emergency Department Director at SSM Health St. Joseph Hospital – Lake St. Louis, says physicians receive specialized training in pediatric emergency care, the patient rooms are designed with kids in mind and in a separate wing from the general ER.

Also, an emergency room will give you immediate access to a range of staff and specialists for a child, especially infants.

Minor bumps, bruises, or cuts on the head are usually nothing to worry about, but if you think your child has a concussion or underlying head injury, the ER is where you want to go because you may need your child monitored over the course of 24 hours. Other illnesses like a persistent cough, something they swallowed or stuck in their ear, or a split lip can be treated by X-rays which are offered at most urgent cares, however, if you feel your child will need access to a plastic surgeon, then the ER is the right choice. Minor breaks or sprains can be addressed at an urgent care facility but if you have a deep cut or the bone is sticking out, go to the ER.

But Litteken says, no matter what, you will always be seen when you come to a pediatric ER.  Nothing is too minor to be treated so coming to the ER is always a safe option. She says all SSM Health Emergency Departments are taking measures to ensure everyone has a safe experience with they visit the hospital.  These include screening before entering, limiting the number of visitors and waiting rooms, and a private wing for pediatric rooms.

To learn more about SSM Health St. Joseph Hospital Lake St. Louis, click here

The SSM Health Medical Minute airs Wednesdays on News 11 at 7pm and FOX 2 News at 9pm.

Medical Minute


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