When do I take my child to the Emergency department?

James Reingold, MD, is the medical director of the Cardon Children’s Medical Center Pediatric Emergency department and is certified by the American Board of Pediatrics in Pediatric Emergency Medicine.

Question: When should I take my child to the emergency room?

Answer: Sometimes it’s obvious that your child is having a medical emergency, but other times it’s not so clear. A pediatric emergency department can handle a wide variety of problems, from a high fever to severe bleeding or head injury.

If your child is experiencing any of the following, bring him or her to the emergency department:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Severe drowsiness, difficulty waking up or confusion
  • Bleeding that won’t stop
  • Stiff neck with fever and headache
  • Severe headache
  • Abdominal pain that makes it painful to walk or change positions, is steadily worsening, and when accompanied by fever or vomiting
  • Head injury or concussion
  • Broken bones
  • Symptoms of appendicitis (pain in the lower right part of the abdomen)
  • Any laceration involving the face or caused by a dog bite
  • Any problem involving children with complex chronic disease

You should also come to the hospital if your child sustains a serious head trauma or if he or she has ingested a poisonous substance or too much medication. Babies 60 days and younger with a fever should always be brought to the emergency department.

Pediatric emergency departments like the one at Cardon Children’s Medical Center are staffed with board-certified emergency physicians, pediatricians and pediatric emergency medicine physicians, as well as pediatric nurses who work exclusively in the pediatric Emergency department.

Our Child Life specialists help to explain medical procedures to your child and provide fun distractions to reduce stress during your visit. Our Pain Management program is dedicated to keeping your child comfortable and provides options like “ouch-free” shots and IVs. Our team draws upon the expertise of a wide range of pediatric subspecialists, including orthopedics, surgery, plastic surgery and neurosurgery.

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