Children's Hospital Colorado

Urgent vs. Emergency Care: How to Choose

When your child becomes sick or injured, it can be difficult to tell how serious it is. You may not know if you should choose an emergency department or urgent care.

We’ve outlined the times when you should seek urgent or emergency care, the differences between them and how you can best prepare for the next time your child gets sick or injured.

Download a printable guide (.pdf)

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What should I do first?

If you are not concerned for a life-threating emergency and unsure about where to go, Children’s Hospital Colorado’s Alison Brent, MD, advises parents to first call their child's primary care provider (PCP). Your PCP should be able to advise you on the best course of action.

If you believe your child needs immediate attention and you have concerns for a life-threatening emergency, call 911.