What do we do when a minor emergency strikes after the doctor’s office has closed? Who can we turn to for advice? Should we be worried? It often leaves us wondering about the right course of action. As parents, it’s helpful to know when it’s appropriate to visit the ER, opt for urgent care, or use a service offered at your TopLine MD Alliance affiliated Pediatrician called FirstCall. That’s why we’re here to help break it down for you.

When to Go to the Emergency Room

Although the Emergency Room is available at all hours, there are specific cases in which this road to treatment is best. These situations include:

  • Life-threatening Conditions: Severe trauma, seizure, or loss of consciousness.
  • Severe Symptoms: Significant difficulty breathing, uncontrollable bleeding, or acute, severe pain.
  • Major Injuries: Deep or large burns, suspected fractures to major bones, or serious head injuries.
  • Critical Situations: Choking, poisoning, or any symptom of a stroke or heart attack.

In these cases, the immediate and advanced care available in an Emergency Room is crucial. Emergency Rooms are equipped with the necessary technology and staff to handle severe and complex emergencies, ensuring that life-threatening conditions are treated with urgency.

When to Visit an Urgent Care

When we consider reasons to seek medical attention in an Urgent Care, we think more along the lines of needing quick medical attention, but we are not experiencing a life-threatening medical emergency. Urgent cares are best to treat:

  • Common Illnesses: Colds, flu, throat pain, and fever.
  • Minor Injuries: Care for sprains, minor cuts, and abrasions that may require stitches.
  • Diagnostic Services: Access to diagnostic exams such as X-rays and laboratory tests.
  • Routine Medical Services: Splints for minor fractures or in some cases, medication administration.

Although most patients only have the option to pick between the Emergency room and the Urgent Care to address their after-hours needs, patients at a TopLine MD Alliance affiliated Pediatrician may offer a lifeline you may not have known you needed. FirstCall provides answers to the key question of “What is the right response”?

When to Use FirstCall

With FirstCall, you have an after-hours telephone triage to address your needs. FirstCall provides access to a licensed nurse who can answer emergency calls after hours, ensuring you receive timely advice when you need it most. The medical team has access to the patients’ medical records for more personalized care. A licensed nurse will assess the patient’s symptoms over the phone and provide the parent with a plan of care and education. Should the patient’s condition warrant emergency care, the highly skilled nurses will reach out to the on-call pediatrician for further assistance, or direct you to the nearest Emergency Room or Urgent Care depending on the patient’s needs. In addition, the team can assist in facilitating next-day in-office appointments for assessments that warrant a 24-hour follow-up. The team at FirstCall can also answer questions you may have regarding dosages for common over-the-counter medications or advice on when to escalate care.

Utilizing FirstCall takes the guessing out of an already stressful time. We know quality care is important at all hours of the day, and the highly skilled nurses can provide that for you. This will ensure that you do not make an unnecessary trip to the Emergency Room or Urgent Care, that can result in more time and greater costs. With FirstCall, you have the opportunity to help your child at home, whenever possible. Remember that guidance and quality care are just a phone call away!



Zuleny Rodriguez is a proud member of the TopLine MD Alliance as a Pediatric Triage Nurse Supervisor.

The TopLine MD Alliance is an association of independent physicians and medical practice groups who are committed to providing a higher standard of healthcare services. The members of the TopLine MD Alliance have no legal or financial relationship with one another. The TopLine MD Alliance brand has no formal corporate, financial or legal ties to any of the affiliated physicians or practice groups.