When to Take a Child to the Emergency Room?

Updated on September 28, 2007
E.H. asks from Carrollton, TX
6 answers

I am never too sure when to take my children in. Sometimes I wonder if its too soon and other times I wonder if its too late. For example vomiting....how long should I wait befor e taking my chil in? or coughing and sneezing?...etc.... Are there legit sites that have a guidline of some sort that goes through most common sicknesses and when to decide to take your child in? :(

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I appreciate everyones responses. :)

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answers from Auburn on

Hi E.,

I have always given my pedi a call first, even if it's the nurse and explain the symptoms to them. If they recommend that a trip to the ER is needed then I would go (I've never had to as of yet). Also, if it's on the weekend you have the option of the "Care Now" type of places instead of the emergency room. Those ER visits can be hours and hours so unless it truly is an immediate life threatening event, I would look for other alternatives.




answers from Dallas on

My pediatrician has a 24 hour triage line. They will ask for symptoms and refer you to the ER if it is a genuine emergency. If I am looking for information on-line, I generally use Wed-MD. It lists symptoms, causes, at-home treatment and other useful info. For example, my four year old was vomiting last week, and I checked Web-MD to see how long a child her age/size can vomit before dehydration becomes an issue. I have successfully used an urgent care clinic on a Sunday, but I always follow up with a phone call to my pedi on the next business day to inform them of symptoms and treatment and medication prescribed by the urgent care doctor.



answers from Dallas on

I think it depends on the age and the symptoms of your child...and then there is just that maternal instinct. You know your children better than anyone else...if your gut says ER, then go. As far as vomiting is concerned, I would say it depends on age, how long they have been vomiting, their abilty to keep water or pedialyte down, if they have fever and most important if they are lethargic. Trust yourself...peace of mind is worth a lot to me. I would rather be safe than sorry.



answers from Dallas on

Just wanted to add a bit to what the others said. When my daughter was about 15 mos old or so, she was running 103.7 fever. She's my only child and I freaked. She'd never been sick, not even a cold. It was after business hours, so I took her to the ER. They told me I shouldn't have brought her in at all UNLESS Motrin/Tylenol rotation wasn't bringing the fever down any.

I was a little ticked because they shared this information in a very snotty manner, but I can see where they are coming from. Knowing more now that she's 5, I know that some things like ear infections(which is what she had) can cause fevers to spike high quickly but generally respond well to fever reducers.



answers from Dallas on

NEVER go to the ER unless it is necessary. You tie up spots for children that really need the ER and you expose your child to all kinds of stuff that will only make them sicker - not to mention wasting your money. The ER is just a giant germ factory, and should only be used for true emergencies. If you are unsure, call the hospital and ask. Most of the time the answer will be wait until morning and then call your pediatrician.

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