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  • Writer's pictureCTPO Team

Should I go to Urgent Care or a Specialist?

There are so many options for healthcare in our community these days, but selecting the right health care facility can save you time, money and improve the chances for a complication free recovery.  So how do you know which one to go to?

With any pediatric orthopedic injury you should immediately consider two factors:

  1. Is my child in need of immediate emergency medical care

  2. Does my child have any underlying health issues that may require advanced skill or specialized care

If the injury your child sustained has caused bleeding, unconsciousness, loss of movement, or left a body part protruding or in an unusual position you should immediately call 9-1-1. These injuries could be life threatening and require emergency medical care at an emergency room.  

Child at the ER
Child fracture ER

If your child has underlying health conditions which can complicate an injury, such cerebral palsy, down syndrome, an existing orthopedic condition or previous surgery at the injury site, you should consider seeking emergency room care.  Many emergency rooms in Austin are staffed with an on call orthopedist.  Dell Children’s Hospital has on call pediatric orthopedists, including many of our CTPO physicians and providers.

If your child’s injury does not require immediate medical care, you may have several options in Austin for seeking health care.  Injuries such as strains, sprains, overuse injuries and dislocated joints can be extremely painful and although they may not be a life threatening emergency, you should not delay care.

Seeing a Pediatric Orthopedic Specialist

If your child’s injury is not life threatening, it is advisable to see a pediatric orthopedist or specialist as soon as possible.  Pediatric orthopedic injuries require specialized knowledge and experience as a child or adolescent’s body is still developing. CTPO has same day appointments available at several of our Austin area offices to treat non life threatening injuries.  

Same day appointments are billed as a regular specialist visit, with no additional emergency room or urgent care copay. Our after hours call center can assist you with after hours injuries, giving you the peace of mind you need if you have to wait for an appointment. With onsite diagnostic testing, our families get access to specialized care and treatment right away.

Bone Doctor for Children
Pediatric Orthopedic Group in Austin

Our physicians, physician assistants and physical therapists specialize in treating kids and know how to work with families to make the experience fun, not scary!  Our team is also experienced in working with children with different abilities, developmental delays, and autism.  We strive to provide a safe and comfortable treatment environment for all children and their families.

Urgent Care Centers for Orthopedic Care

If you cannot get a same day appointment at a pediatric orthopedist, you may consider one of Austin’s urgent care clinics.  Most are staffed with a medical doctor and nurse practitioners or physician assistants and many have X-ray machines on site. Wait times for non-emergency injuries are often significantly less at urgent care centers as compared to emergency rooms and copays are less. They can be an attractive option for parents.

However, in most cases, an urgent care center that diagnoses and treats a pediatric orthopedic injury is going to recommend follow up with a pediatric orthopedist.  In some cases, the facility may not have specialized equipment to treat children, such as child size prosthetics and medical aid devices.  To avoid these issues, look for an urgent care center that specifically advertises its ability to treat children. Be advised that some urgent care centers will not treat children under the age of 2.

Urgent Care Centers are not the proper treatment environment for children with underlying health care conditions that may cause complications to their recovery.  If your child has such a condition, please speak with your physician to develop a plan of action should your child suffer an orthopedic injury.  Even if it is not recommended by the urgent care center during your visit, we highly recommend following up with a pediatric orthopedist.  A child or adolescent body is not fully development and seemingly minor injuries can cause long term developmental complications if not cared for properly.

The good news is that we have many terrific healthcare options here in Austin!  Think about your choices before an injury happens so you have a plan in place if and when it does.  

If you need a same day appointment or would like to follow up with one of our pediatric orthopedic specialists after an emergency room or urgent care visit, please call us at 512.478.8116.



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