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Does My Child Need Emergency Care?

Doctorpedia Editorial Team Doctorpedia Editorial Team May 11, 2021
Medically reviewed by Susan Kerrigan, MD and Marianne Madsen

It’s going to happen. It’s just a matter of when. Nearly every parent is likely to experience the shock and horror of seeing their child get hurt–badly. Whether falling off of a piece of furniture, touching something they shouldn’t have, or eating what they don’t yet know is not food, children, especially infants or toddlers, always seem to find themselves getting into harm’s way.

 

These situations are often rife with stress and adrenaline. Your child is crying, there’s often blood, and you may start to panic–how do you know just how serious it is? Children are more fragile than adults and what might be a minor pain for an adult can be a serious injury to a child. At the same time, you can’t run to the emergency room for everything. Here’s what you need to know to determine if your child needs emergency medical care. Of course, if you have any question about whether your child needs immediate help, trust your instincts.

 

Call an Ambulance

 

If your child is in extreme peril, call an ambulance immediately. This type of injury may include:

 

  • A spine or neck injury
  • A cut that is bleeding uncontrollably
  • An injury to the head that has caused abnormal behavior such as vomiting or unresponsiveness
  • Inability to breathe
  • Ingestion of something poisonous (keep the substance container handy, and call poison control, too)
  • Seizures that last 3 minutes or more

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Emergency Room - Preparation

Emergency Room - Preparation

Take Your Child to an Urgent Care Center or Emergency Room

 

Serious injuries that are not immediately life-threatening can be handled at an urgent care center, or an emergency room if it is after hours for the urgent care center. Remember that an urgent care center will send you to an emergency room if necessary. These type of situations may include:

 

  • A broken bone
  • A serious burn
  • An allergic reaction (if the child doesn’t have trouble breathing)
  • Bites from insects or animals (if the bleeding is controlled)
  • High fever
  • Signs of dehydration

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Emergency Room - Fever in Children

Emergency Room - Fever in Children

Get a Doctor’s Appointment at the Earliest Possible Time

 

If your child has contracted a serious illness or is displaying severe symptoms, they should be seen by a doctor as soon as possible. These situations don’t usually happen suddenly but develop over time (usually a day or so).  The emergency room isn’t really the right place to go, but if your doctor’s office is unavailable and urgent care is still open, you may give that a try. Examples of this type of situation include:

 

  • Urinary or bowel infections
  • Nausea or vomiting 
  • Sinus infections, persistent earaches, or troubling coughs
  • Sprains or strains

 

Conclusion

 

No one likes to see their children hurt. It can be stressful and emotional. Keeping your head and getting the right kind of help is the best thing you can do for your child. If you have any doubts about what to do, trust your parental instincts and get immediate help for your child.

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