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Most Common Pediatric Emergencies

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

As a parent, you worry. Mrs. Weasley even had a clock showing where her family members were, including if anyone was in mortal peril. (Apparently you can build one yourself now.) How do you know what exactly rises to the level of “mortal peril”? Is it serious? Does your child need immediate emergency care? Is it something that can wait for the doctor’s office in the morning? 

 

Here are some of the most common pediatric crises that you are most likely to encounter. These are situations where you are likely to need an ambulance or an emergency room visit. Other situations may be handled at an urgent care center or wait until your regular doctor is available.

 

  • Accidents: Car, bike, or playground accidents that cause serious injury are a reason to call an ambulance or visit an emergency room. Falls or burns, especially of very young children, can also be a reason for a visit. If any of the following are present, call an ambulance or get to the emergency room:
  • Head injury with loss of consciousness
  • Injury to neck or spine
  • Severe burn
  • Bleeding that cannot be stopped
  • Broken bone, especially one that has broken the skin
  • Deep, gaping wound more than ½ inch wide or deep

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Emergency Room - Preparation

Emergency Room - Preparation

  • Breathing: Any time a child stops breathing, it’s time for an emergency call. Call an ambulance if the child is turning blue or choking. If the child has difficulty breathing (but is still able to breathe), call emergency services for help and follow the instructions you are given.
  • Poisoning: If you suspect your child has eaten anything poisonous, call the poison control center immediately. Keep the substance container close so you can give complete information. Follow the instructions of the poison control specialist carefully.   
  • High fever: If a child, especially a small one, has a high fever with a stiff neck and headache, it’s time to visit the urgent care center or emergency room. Another example is a high fever that causes convulsions or seizures. 

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Emergency Room - Fever in Children

Emergency Room - Fever in Children

  • Dehydration: If your child has been sick over the course of a few days, usually with vomiting and/or diarrhea, watch carefully for signs of dehydration–dry mouth, no tears, no wet diapers in several hours, or the “soft spot” on top of a baby’s head is sunken. These symptoms all warrant a visit to the urgent care center or emergency room.

 

If you’re not sure what to do, call your doctor’s office and talk to whoever is available on call. As a parent, you’re not alone. Others are available to help you take care of your child. Follow their instructions to help get your child the immediate help he or she needs.

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