Urgent Care for Kids: What Is It and What Does it Do?

As any parent knows, it's easy for children to get injured while playing with friends or at school, and it's even easier for kids to get sick. We've all heard the stories: once one kid gets the chicken pox or strep throat at school, those diseases can sweep through whole classrooms in a matter of days.

Having to wait for a doctor's appointment or in an emergency room is frustrating for parents and children alike. Instead, when your child is in need of quick and affordable medical treatment, be sure to find a center that specializes in urgent care for kids.

What is urgent care? An urgent care facility provides medical attention and healthcare for any non-life-threatening ailments. In the United States alone, there are an estimated 7,164 urgent care centers and counting -- and they are in all 50 states. Many of these centers are open 24 hours a day for added convenience, so you don't have to worry about taking time off work or school for your family to receive treatment. The average urgent care center in the U.S. gets anywhere from 300 to 400 visits each week, but despite the high volume of patients, the wait times are much quicker than they are in a typical hospital emergency room.

What can urgent care for kids do? Urgent care centers staffed with pediatricians can treat just about any ailment, and many will also provide lab work, such as blood tests and X-rays. Some common reasons for children to visit urgent care can include treatments for short-term illnesses such as colds, bronchitis, ear infections, flu symptoms, and other non-life-threatening illnesses. Many patients also visit for chronic conditions, such as asthma or injuries. Many centers that specialize in urgent care for kids can also provide prescriptions and dispense medications to patients, so you may not have to make an additional stop to a pharmacy.

With the rising costs in healthcare and the wait times in hospitals, one figure estimates that 35% of emergency room visits in the United States could have been resolved quicker and cost less at an urgent care center. Long wait times in an emergency room and the inability to get a doctor's appointment immediately can exacerbate your child's condition. If your child needs fast and affordable treatment for illness or injury, be sure to find a pediatric urgent care center first.