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Acute Care or Emergency

Where should you take your child for medical care when he or she is ill or injured? How do you decide whether to go to Pediatric Acute Care or Urgent Care or the Emergency Department?

If you think your child is experiencing a life-threatening or severe condition, call 911 or go directly to the Pediatric Emergency Department.

Pediatric Emergency Department

The Pediatric Emergency Department treats children with conditions that need immediate attention, ranging from simple but pressing injuries such as a cut that needs stitches to a life-threatening head injury. Pediatric specialists, trained in emergency medicine, are available 24 hours a day.

Minor Medical Needs

Pediatric Urgent Care

Pediatric Urgent Care treats children with illnesses or injuries that aren't considered emergencies but require attention. Pediatric Urgent Care is open from 5 to 9 p.m. on weekdays, and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on weekends and holidays.

The clinic is open to the public. No appointment is necessary.

Pediatric Urgent Care also offers an online service called InQuicker that allows parents to hold a place in line for their children. You can check in from home, choose an available time for your child to be seen, and arrive at the hospital at the scheduled time.

Select a time to be seen at Urgent Care:

UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital

For Pediatric Urgent Care, go to the Pediatric Emergency Department entrance. Pediatric Urgent Care is located within the Pediatric Emergency Department. Our team includes pediatricians and pediatric nurses trained in urgent care.

Pediatric Acute Care

Pediatric Acute Care is available from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday to Friday, for children with minor illnesses or injuries such as a cough, earache or sprained ankle. To make an appointment, your child must have a pediatrician or primary care doctor at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital at Parnassus, UCSF Medical Center at Mount Zion or Lakeshore Family Medical Center.

Parents can speak to an advice nurse who will provide assistance or help schedule a same-day appointment.

Pediatric Acute Care is offered at two locations:

During evenings, weekends and holidays, Pediatric Urgent Care is available.

When to Call 911

Do you know when to call 911 or take your child to the Emergency Department?

Dr. Steven Polevoi, medical director of the Emergency Department at UCSF Medical Center, advises that parents trust their instincts. "If you feel that it's truly a medical emergency, seek immediate medical care," he said. "But if you're not sure, it's always a good idea to call the child's pediatrician for advice."

Polevoi offers the following recommendations, based on guidelines from the American College of Emergency Physicians.

Call 911 if your child:

  • Has difficulty breathing, stops breathing or experiences shortness of breath
  • Becomes unconscious
  • Has uncontrolled, major bleeding
  • Is unable to stand up or is unsteady walking
  • Has a seizure that lasts more than one minute

Get immediate medical attention if your child experiences:

  • Change in behavior or strange or withdrawn behavior
  • Excessive irritability or feeding difficulties (babies)
  • Fever, especially if accompanied by change in behavior
  • Increasing or severe pain that hasn't been previously present
  • New rash
  • Persistent vomiting or diarrhea
  • Severe headache, neck pain or stiffness
  • Severe medical condition, including traumatic injury
  • Skin or lip color changes (dark, purplish, blue)
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