Right Care, Right Place: Where to Turn When Your Child Is Sick

Published on in Health Tip of the Week

Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) is dedicated to ensuring your child receives the best care possible. The CHOP Care Network provides many ways to seek medical care for your child. The following information can help you determine the best place to seek care when your child is sick or injured. Making thoughtful choices about where to seek care can help emergency rooms stay ready for families who need them most.

Your Primary Care Office

If your child is experiencing any of the following symptoms, your pediatrician can help you determine the right place to seek care. They may schedule a sick visit, recommend a telehealth appointment or refer you to an Urgent Care Center.

  • Allergies
  • Colds
  • Colic
  • Constipation
  • Cough
  • Diarrhea
  • Ear infection
  • Fever lasting longer than 2-3 days
    Older than 2 months, otherwise well
  • Mild stomach pain
  • Minor burns
  • Minor dog bite
  • Minor head injury
  • Nausea/Vomiting
  • Rash


Most symptoms can be managed at home or with a call to your pediatrician. Don’t forget: you are the best judge of your child’s needs. If your child has alarming symptoms or is in pain, don’t hesitate to seek emergency care.

Use this symptom checker for help determining how serious your child’s symptoms are, if a visit to the doctor is needed, and what steps you can take to relieve symptoms at home.

Watch this helpful video for more about managing your child’s fever.

Urgent Care Center

The following ailments can also be managed by your pediatrician during normal office hours. If you need immediate assistance after hours, call your pediatrician’s office to speak to an after-hours nurse. If care can’t wait until your pediatrician’s office reopens, find an Urgent Care center near you for any of these symptoms:

  • Allergies
  • Minor arm and leg injuries
    Skin intact and shape normal
  • Ear pain
  • Fainting
    Acting normal
  • Insect bite
  • Minor asthma attack
  • Minor cuts and burns
  • Minor head injury
  • Pink eye
  • Severe congestion
  • Sore throat
  • Urinary infection

Emergency Care

For these or other serious or life-threatening situations, go to the Emergency Department (ED) right away.

  • Allergic reaction
  • Breathing trouble
  • Broken bone
    Abnormal shape or torn skin
  • Dehydration
  • Fainting
    With abnormal behavior
  • Fever over 100.4°Child younger than 2 months or with underlying conditions
  • Psychiatric emergency
  • Seizure
  • Severe asthma attack
  • Severe burns or cuts
  • Severe chest pain
  • Severe eye emergency
  • Severe facial injury
  • Severeheadache Prolonged
  • Severe head injury
  • Severe stomach pain

Poisonings/ Swallowed Objects

Call the Poison Control Center hosted at CHOP at 1-800-222-1222, and a specially trained nurse or pharmacist will assist you. This free hotline is available 24/7.

COVID-19 Testing

For COVID-19 testing for your child, use the retail or public health sites in your community. CHOP also has dedicated COVID-19 testing sites. You can make an appointment for a COVID-19 test here. This helps free up space in the ED for serious medical emergencies.

For more COVID-19 testing resources, call the Greater Philadelphia Coronavirus Helpline at 800-722-7112.

Stay in Touch

Are you looking for advice to keep your child healthy and happy? Do you have questions about common childhood illnesses and injuries? Subscribe to our Health Tips newsletter to receive health and wellness tips from the pediatric experts at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, straight to your inbox. Read some recent tips.

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