Kansas City,
10:04 AM

When to go: Emergency Room vs. Urgent Care

It’s the dilemma every parent faces at some point when their child needs medical care, but the doctor’s office is closed. Do you go to the Emergency Room (ER) or Urgent Care?

If your child has a life-threatening illness or injury, call 911. But not every situation is so clear-cut. If your child breaks a bone, has a high fever or an asthma attack, what should you do? We’ve put together this chart to help you determine where to take your child for immediate treatment.

Emergency RoomUrgent Care
Asthma attack (severe)Allergies
Bleeding that won't stopAsthma attack (minor)
Broken bone (looks bent, curved or deformed)Broken bone (not bent)
Burn (severe)Bronchiolitis
Cast problems (soiled or wet)Burn (minor)
Cut (severe)Cold or cough
FaintingCut (minor)
Fever (infant less than 2 months old)Dehydration
Head injury (loss of consciousness or extreme impact)Diarrhea
Headache (migraine)Dizziness
Pneumonia (diagnosed and with worsening symptoms)Earache and ear infection
PoisoningFever (children over 2 months old)
Stomach pain (severe)Head injury (no loss of consciousness, minor impact)
Swallowed objectInsect or minor dog bite
Trouble breathingNausea, vomiting
Ultrasound, CT scan or MRIPink eye
 Sore throat
 Sprain or strain
 Stitches (from minor cut)
 Stomach pain (mild)
 Urinary infection

Children’s Mercy Urgent Care “Save My Spot”

If you determine the best place to take your child is Urgent Care, you no longer have to sit in the waiting room. Children’s Mercy recently launched “Save My Spot” at its three Urgent Care locations throughout the Kansas City area.

The online check-in program allows patients to view current wait times and choose an arrival time that works for them. This allows sick or injured kids to stay at home while waiting.

Here’s how it works:

  • Families check for the current estimated wait time.

  • Select a convenient location or waiting time.

  • Reserve a check-in time.

  • Fill out a short form.

  • Receive text reminders when their check-in time is near.

Whether you take your child to Urgent Care or the ER, it's best to look for a health care system that is focused on pediatrics and is staffed by board-certified pediatricians and pediatric nurse practitioners.


Learn more about Children's Mercy Urgent Care locations, hours of operations and Save My Spot.

Learn more about Children's Mercy Emergency Room locations.

Bookmark Emergency Room vs. Urgent Care chart.