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When to Take Your Child to The ER


From Florida Hospital - Apopka

If you’re a parent, chances are you’ve had or will have to make the decision as to whether or not to take your sick child to the emergency room. Sometimes a call to your pediatrician’s office can help you decide, but if you can’t reach the doctor, keep the following guidelines (for children, not infants) in mind:


Treat at home: Most cases of bleeding can be managed at home. For a typical cut or scrape, apply pressure if needed, then wash with soapy water, dry and apply antibacterial ointment and a bandage.

Go to your doctor: If you’ve been able to stop the bleeding, but infection sets in, see your doctor.

Go to the ER: If your child has a gaping wound (you’ll know this when you see it) or the bleeding continues for 15 minutes.

Broken Bones

Go to your doctor: If the bleeding has stopped, nothing feels numb, the child can move the injured body part, and the pain can be controlled with over-the-counter medicine, skip the ER, and see a doctor in a couple of days if you’re still concerned.

Go to the ER: If you suspect your child has a broken bone, particularly if there is visible swelling or unevenness and bumps in the injured area — a sign that the broken bone is misaligned.


Fever is a sign that your child’s body is fighting an infection.

Treat at home: A kid with a fever will probably feel pretty yucky, but a temperature under 104°F can usually be managed at home.

Go to the doctor: It’s time to see the doctor if the fever continues for more than five days or if your child is immune compromised.

Go to the ER: If your child’s temperature is over 104°F, you need to head to the ER immediately, especially if there are other symptoms like labored breathing or vomiting.

Respiratory Distress

Treat at home: If your child has mild congestion like that associated with a cold and is otherwise functioning normally (playing, eating, drinking), then you can most likely handle things at home.

Go to the ER: If your little one’s struggling to breathe, that’s a different story. Breathing faster than normal and/or working hard to breathe are signs that you need to go to the ER. Other indicators that will send you to the ER include your child looking blue, making wheezing, clicking or other strange sounds when breathing, or being listless.

Vomiting and Diarrhea

These symptoms can be caused by a variety of things, but in kids vomiting and diarrhea are usually the result of a stomach virus that will go away on its own in a couple of days. The main concern with vomiting and diarrhea is dehydration.

Treat at home: You can hang out at home if your child can keep down frequent, small sips of liquid and isn’t showing any other symptoms.

Go to the doctor: If the vomiting/diarrhea continues for three days (without blood in the stool) or the child can’t keep down liquids, go to the doctor.

Go to the ER: A visit to the ER is indicated if the vomiting/diarrhea is persistent and uncontrollable or shows evidence of blood, or belly pain, or if it’s been more than six hours since your child urinated.

As a rule, if your child is able to walk, talk, interact and play, chances are whatever she or he has is not an emergency, saysDennis Hernandez, MD, pediatric emergency medicine physician and medical director, pediatric emergency center, at Florida Hospital for Children.

Source: Florida Hospital for Children

Emergency Room, Florida Hospital - Apopka


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