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Using Walk-In Clinics for Pediatric Care

Many adults rely on walk-in clinics to get convenient care when they need it. When it comes to children, Northeast Medical Group pediatricians Foong-Yi Lin, MD, and John Ancona, MD, say parents should only take their child to a walk-in for specific reasons.

“At a walk-in, they may not be seen by someone who specializes in pediatric diseases or is not aware of the child’s history, family dynamics, mental health or immunization status, which can affect the diagnosis and treatment plan,” Dr. Lin said.

Dr. Ancona says if your child is sick and it is not an emergency always call your pediatrician’s office first. Even during off hours, you can speak with the clinician on call. Most offices have their phones covered 24 hours, by either their own staff or a pediatric nurse advice line.

How to use a walk-in clinic for pediatric visits

Dr. Ancona and Dr. Lin agree there are some circumstances where a walk-in would be OK if the child’s pediatrician is not available. Conditions include minor illnesses and injuries such as:

  • The common cold
  • Influenza
  • Ear infections
  • Sore throat
  • Allergies
  • UTI
  • Sprains

Emergency care for children

If a child is stable, parents can still call their pediatrician’s office for advice on what level of care their child needs. However, parents should take their child to the emergency department for any situation that requires immediate attention, including:

  • Respiratory distress
  • Allergic reactions
  • Change in neurological status – head trauma, loss of consciousness, seizures, difficulty to awaken
  • Prolonged bleeding
  • Severe pain
  • Broken bones

Follow up after pediatric urgent care

If a parent takes their child to a walk-in, they should always follow up with their pediatrician afterwards. While some walk-ins will send a child’s medical records to their pediatrician’s office, others many not. Parents should double check and request for updated information if needed.