When should you bring your kids to the emergency department?
Every child gets a few bumps, bruises, sniffles and upset tummies, especially active kids. But when does an injury or a cold require a call to a physician, or a visit to the emergency department? Brad Tate, MD, from Children’s Health and Methodist Richardson Pediatric Services, helps set the record straight.
The situation: Trouble breathing
Call the physician if: Your child is breathing faster than normal. If you doctor isn’t able to get you in right away, the ED may be a better bet.
Drive to the Emergency Department if: Your child has had more than one asthma attack in a day and less than four hours apart. Same goes if he or she is having trouble breathing but is not lethargic or passing out.
Skip the drive and call 911 if: Your child is passing out or has passed out from not being able to breath, has asthma attacks more frequently than every four hours, or their skin is sucking in between their ribs as they try to breathe.
The situation: vomiting, diarrhea, or frequent urination
Call the physician if: More is “coming out” than what is “going in.” If your child is vomiting more than what they are ingesting, they might be prescribed Zofran to help them keep their stomach settled.
Drive to the Emergency Department: If their vomiting has not stopped for more than two hours.
The situation: Injuries
Call the physician: If your child has fallen, tripped, or bumped into something and you’re concerned the injury may be greater than the pain, call your family physician.
Drive to the Emergency Department: If you suspect a break, sprain or concussion, your family physician may not have the capabilities to X-ray or scan your child.
The situation: Fever
Call the physician: Despite its reputation, fever is actually a healthy way that our bodies fight off an infection. Though it’s not a fun process, it does not warrant a trip to the emergency room. Rest and time are the best remedies; call your physician if your little one’s fever lasts more than a day.
Drive to the Emergency Department: Drive to the Emergency Department if a fever is accompanied by symptoms like extreme neck pain and headache
Skip the drive and call 911 if: Your child’s fever is accompanied by severe neck pain, headache, and low-back pain. These may be signs of bacterial meningitis.
Illness and injury are part of childhood, but seeing a child in distress can still be scary for a parent. Being aware of these signs and symptoms will help you make quicker decisions when illness or accidents occur.
Good news - there is a third option for your child. Methodist Urgent Care Centers bridge the gap between a doctor’s office and emergency room. There are four locations around North Texas, and they are open evenings and weekends. Methodist Urgent Care clinicians can treat children and adults, and there is no appointment necessary. Most patients are seen and treated in less than an hour. Methodist Urgent Care can provide X-rays, stitches and treat rashes and illnesses.