Should I Take My Child to Urgent Care or the ER?

Your pediatrician: The first stop for nonurgent needs

When you have a nonurgent need for medical care, we encourage you to see your child’s pediatrician whenever possible.

During Business Hours:

After-hours Options:

You may call your pediatrician’s office to talk to the nurse triage line.

If your child has an illness or injury and you are not able to get an appointment to see your pediatrician, you can seek urgent care. Urgent care locations treat minor illnesses such as mild stomachache, flu, ear infection, asthma flare, suspected concussion (without vomiting, disorientation or fainting symptoms), pinkeye and strep/sore throat.

In the event of an issue where your child’s life is in danger or an injury may result in loss of a body part, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room. This can include injuries such as severe burns, broken bones, seizure (without a previous diagnosis of epilepsy), serious head injury, vomiting or coughing up blood and bleeding that won’t stop.

For immediate help with a mental health crisis, including suicidal thoughts, call 988 or go to Norton Children’s emergency room.

Cost of Urgent Care Options vs. Emergency Room

During a medical emergency, getting your child the care they need as quickly as possible is the first priority. However, parents might have questions, such as what’s the cost difference between pediatric urgent care options and the emergency room?

Varying Cost of Urgent Care vs. ER

The cost varies based on several factors, including the injury or illness your child is being treated for, your insurance coverage and the specific services provided.

Visits to the emergency room sometimes include specialized treatment required for serious medical conditions, such as a severe burn, broken bone, serious head injury and other trauma. Urgent care options are designed to provide medical care for non-life-threatening conditions and often are an alternative to taking your child to a pediatrician outside of regular office hours.

Check with your Insurance Provider

Because of varying factors, it’s important to check your health insurance copays and deductibles for urgent care and emergency room visits so that you can make an informed choice.

Which Urgent Care Option Is Best for My Child?

Use the information below to find the best urgent care option for your child. In general, if a medical need is not life-threatening and doesn’t require immediate attention, you can seek care for your child at one of our urgent care options. However, if your child has severe symptoms or a potentially life-threatening injury, go to the emergency room for appropriate and timely care.

After your child receives care at a Norton Children’s or Norton Healthcare office, you will receive an after-visit summary in your child’s Norton MyChart account.

Norton Children’s Options

Norton Children’s Pediatrician

Open weekdays; hours vary by location

Appointment required

(Same-day available)

Your pediatrician’s office is your child’s medical home, where they receive care when sick; get annual check ups, school or sports physicals and immunizations; behavioral and mental health screenings; and management of chronic diseases.

Your pediatrician is your first stop if you believe your child needs a referral to a specialist.

Norton Children’s After Hours Location

Appointment required

Norton Children’s Medical Group – Shepherdsville offers after-hours care for illnesses and minor injuries, as well as well-child checkups for existing and new patients.

Emergency Department

All Ages

Open 24/7

No appointment required

*Walk in or emergency transport only

For very serious illness or injury that puts a child’s life in danger. Treatment available 24/7 at six Louisville locations, including three locations specifically designed for kids.

Norton Healthcare Options

Norton Immediate Care Centers

Ages 6 months and older

Feel free to arrive without an appointment for illnesses, injuries, physical exams, testing and vaccinations. Every location has on-site labs and X-rays. To reduce time in a waiting room, you can reserve your spot in line ahead of time and rest at home until it is closer to your turn to be seen.

Norton Prompt Care Clinics

Ages 12 months and older (sick visits)

Ages 2 and older (well visits)

Extended hours, including most holidays

Same-day appointments with a Norton Healthcare provider in convenient neighborhood clinic locations for sick visits, sports/camp physicals, vaccinations, minor injury and more.

Norton eCare

Ages 2 and older

24/7 care is available at your fingertips with virtual urgent care. Choose a video visit or an eVisit to discuss your minor illness or health concern from anywhere you are — anytime. Schedule it through your Norton MyChart account and save the trip.

*Due to the nature of walk-in services, other patients with more serious health issues may affect your wait time.