9 things to know before taking your child to the ER
How to decide if it's an emergency, and what to do next.
Vikki Mioduszewski Published: 7/10/2018
When your child wakes you in the middle of the night with a raging cough and fever, or has been complaining of a severe stomachache for longer than seems normal, how do you know it’s time to get to the emergency room? As a parent, making these decisions can be tough. Here are nine ways Mom or Dad can determine when to let the symptoms pass and when to take them seriously, along with what to bring, ask and do next when they get to the ER.
1. Your child’s doctor can help you decide. If you’re not sure if it’s an emergency, your pediatrician’s office is typically available 24/7 and can advise if you should go to the ER right away.
2. A children’s ER is different. An ER affiliated with a children’s hospital has the specially trained staff to handle serious issues that may arise from seemingly minor symptoms.
3. Be calm and clear. Even if your heart is racing, staying calm will help your child feel less anxious, and you’ll be able to communicate more clearly to those who can help.
4. Bring your child’s health history. The ER doctor will need to know about immunizations, previous illnesses, current health conditions, allergies and medications. Keep the information in your purse or diaper bag, along with his health insurance card.
5. Give the ER team all the facts. Information about your child’s symptoms, when the first one appeared, how an injury occurred, etc. will help the ER doctor diagnose and treat your child more quickly.
6. Tell your child what to expect. Let her know that the ER doctor (not her regular doctor) will examine her, and may need to run special tests to help her feel better sooner.
7. Ask questions. You are your child’s best advocate and the ER team’s partner in care. Don’t hesitate to ask for more information about the plan of care if you have concerns.
8. Get clear discharge instructions. Make sure you know what to do to take care of your child once he’s home from the ER.
9. Follow up with your child’s doctor. It’s a good idea to update your child’s medical history and to make a follow-up appointment.
For a list of Wolfson Children's Emergency Center locations, visit wolfsonchildrens.com/ER. For parents' further reassurance, Wolfson Children's Hospital is home to the only state-designated Pediatric Trauma Referral Center in Northeast Florida.