When to go to emergency room instead of calling a pediatrician

Your child is hurt or sick...What now?

It can be hard to decide where to go when you child is in a bad situation. Their condition is the number one indicator on where you should take them. We can break down where to take your child into three areas, with very simple guidelines on what leads you to each conclusion.

When to go to your pediatrician

As a general rule of thumb, turn to your pediatrician’s office first–even after hours. Most pediatrician offices have an after hours call line to help parents decide whether their child needs to be seen right away or if the issue can wait to be treated the next day during regular hours.

Common ailments that can typically wait until the next day when you’re able to make an appointment include:

  • Ear pain
  • Cough
  • Runny nose
  • Sore Throat
  • Fever in children over 1 year
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Eye drainage
  • Fussy baby

When to go to Urgent Care

When your primary care physician’s office is closed and you need some peace of mind, visit an urgent care. Urgent cares are set up to assist patients with injuries or illnesses that do not appear to be serious or life threatening, but can’t wait until morning.

Common conditions that can be treated at urgent care include:

  • Minor illness or injury
  • Fractures or broken bones that are not crooked and do not cause severe pain
  • Worsening fever in infants ages 2 months to 1 year
  • Minor burns
  • Minor asthma
  • Small cuts

When to go to the Emergency Room

By contrast, emergency departments (EDs) are for people with life threatening needs. Take your child to an ED anytime you think the problem needs immediate attention.

Take your child to the ED for the following conditions:

    • Shortness of breath
    • Blue or purple lips, skin or fingernails
    • Chest or stomach pain
    • Seizures
    • Animal, snake or human bites
    • Head, spinal cord or eye injuries
    • Infants under 2 months with a fever
    • Signs of allergic reaction
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