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When to take your child to the Emergency Room

By Mary W. Poole

Even healthy kids get hurt or sick sometimes. Nothing can send you into panic-mode faster than seeing your child sick or hurt. In many instances, you will know immediately that you need to head to the nearest Emergency Room (ER) at your local hospital but there are also times that it is much harder to determine whether an illness or injury warrants the attention of a medical professional. Call your doctor if you are unsure of the level of medical care your child needs. Before you make that frantic trip to your local ER, you need to do a few things:

Be able to identify emergency symptoms – these diagnosis warrant a trip to the ER as soon as possible

Difficulty breathing

Disoriented

Change in mental status such as becoming unusually sleepy or difficult to wake up

A cut that will not stop bleeding

Stiff neck with fever

Rapidly spreading rash

Falls from significant heights

Rapid heartbeat that will not slow down

Ingestion of poisonous material or too much medication

More than minor head trauma

Determine whether non-emergent symptoms need the ER – if not life threatening, call your pediatrician, they can determine if a trip to the ER or to their office is the best course of action. Many times the pediatrician will call ahead to the ER and let them know you are coming.

Know your child’s medial history – the best treatment can be rendered when you can accurately recite your child’s symptoms, medications and past medical history, illness and surgeries. If you are too upset, bring a close family member with you.

Take evidence with you – if your child has ingested medication or a household product, take it with you so medical personnel know exactly what they are dealing with. If an item was swallowed, try to bring an item of like size for verification and if your child has lost a tooth always wrap in moist cloth and bring to ER with you.

Call 911 if necessary – some situations are so serious that you need the help of trained medical personnel on the way to the hospital. These might include if your child has been hit by a car, has a severe head or neck injury has ingested lethal medication/poison or is turning blue.

Pack a small bag of clothing – you never know if you child will be admitted so bring a pair of pajamas, a toy, their favorite teddy bear or blanket and any other items that would save you a trip home if an admission is required.

Get ready to take notes – bring a pen and paper to jot down important information the doctor or nurse will share with you. Important information about your child’s condition, further treatment, prescriptions and further instructions are hard to remember in an emergency situation.

Always talk to your doctor before your child ever requires emergency services. They will inform you how to be prepared in the event of an emergency. Most physicians have policies on addressing medial needs outside of office hours. Having that important information ahead of time will mean one less thing to worry about when your child is sick. Baptist Hospitals of Southeast Texas, Orange Campus, is equipped with highly skilled emergency room physicians, registered nurses and technicians ready to assist you, your child or any member of your family in an emergency situation. They are located a 608 Strickland Drive and can be reached at 883- 9361.

Mary W. Poole is Director Public Relations at Baptist Hospitals of Southeast Texas