When to take Your Child to the Emergency Room

As a parent with a sick child, it can be difficult to decide whether you need to take your child to the emergency room. Your child should be evaluated for emergency medical treatment if he or she:

• has difficulty breathing or shortness of breath

• has had a change in mental status, such as suddenly becoming unusually sleepy, difficult to wake, disoriented, or confused

• has a cut in the skin that is bleeding and won’t stop

• has a stiff neck along with a fever

• has a rapid heartbeat that doesn’t slow down

• accidentally ingests a poisonous sub stance or too much medication

• has had more than minor head trauma

Some medical situations aren’t true emergencies but may require a call to your child’s doctor. These include:

• high fever

• ear pain

• pain in the abdomen

• headache that doesn’t go away

• rash

• mild wheezing

• persistent cough

If you are not sure what to do, call the doctor. If the doctor cannot speak with you right away, a nurse can help you decide whether to take your child to the ER. Pediatricians’ offices have answering services on nights and weekends, which can get you in touch with the doctor.

Nyack Hospital Emergency Department Nurse Manager, Dawn Sugrue, RN, shares what signs indicate when your child should be taken to the hospital for emergency care.