Children's Hospital Colorado

Urgent vs. Emergency Care: How to Choose

When your child is 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.

What should I do first?

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

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 or pediatrician. They will advise you on the best course of action.

Open the windows below to learn more.

When to go where

Why pediatric care matters

What to expect

Preparing for next time