A new study by University of Michigan researchers has found that a considerable number of parents whose sick children were excluded from child care choose to visit emergency rooms or urgent care locations rather than visiting their regular doctors, Medical Xpress reports. The study also finds that the parents who do favor urgent care locations and emergency rooms needed a doctor’s note for their child to return to child care, were concerned about their job, are single, are divorced, or are African American.
Urgent care locations see patients immediately, which makes it an appealing alternative to the doctor’s office for parents who have concerns about returning to work. A child excluded from child care may need a note to return, so rather than staying home with the child and potentially losing money or their jobs, more working parents are choosing to go to urgent care locations because of the convenience. About 70% of urgent care locations are open by 8AM, which is easier for more parents to get to if their child’s primary care doctor’s office opens later in the day or if they cannot get a convenient appointment.
Part of what contributes to this trend is that it can be difficult for child care centers to care for sick children because of staffing issues or lack of staff preparedness. According to Medical Xpress, many child care centers require a note from a doctor before a sick child can return. The American Academy of Pediatrics has guidelines for exclusion of children who are ill from child care centers, but the number of child care centers that keep with these guidelines is low.
Because of the convenience and range of treatments they offer, urgent care locations are becoming a popular choice for Americans in general. There are over 20,000 doctors practicing at over 7,000 urgent care locations in the U.S.