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Emergency Pediatric Care

Pediatricians are specially trained doctors who care for children and adolescents, and emergency pediatricians see patients who are acutely ill or injured. Because emergencies are unplanned, you should speak to your child’s regular pediatrician in advance about what you should do if one occurs. Pediatric emergency physicians diagnose and treat all manner of illnesses and injuries in infants, children, teens, and adolescents. They are experts in handling young people, even those who are reluctant or uncooperative or who need soothing for their nerves.

Early detection of illness or injury is key to preventing it from getting worse or turning into an emergency that could cause permanent harm. Symptoms of a serious medical emergency include unusual/apathetic behavior, loss of alertness or consciousness, rhythmic jerking, difficulty breathing, turning blue, high fever, or any head injury. Common accidents that cause serious injuries in children include bicycle accidents, car wrecks, falls, burns, choking, drowning, electric shocks, and overdosing on a toxic substance.

Call 9-1-1- for help if your child stops breathing or loses consciousness, or if you fear their life is in danger. Do not drive your child to the hospital, as the paramedics in the ambulance can provide critical care en route to the ER.

What Do Emergency Pediatricians Treat?

These are the most common emergencies pediatricians treat:

  • Persistent fever
  • Severe infections
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Severe pain
  • Dehydration
  • Seizures
  • Allergic reactions
  • Fractures
  • Head injuries
  • Burns
  • Poisoning
  • Complications of chronic illnesses
  • Lacerations and open wounds
  • Animal bites and puncture wounds
  • Sprains
  • Foreign objects removal

What Should I Bring to the ER?

It’s always a good idea to a list of your child’s medications and medical history handy in case of emergency. You should also bring your health insurance card, the contact information for your child’s primary pediatrician, and prepare to give the doctor a sequence of events for what led you to take your child to the emergency room. Remember, as a parent, you are the best advocate for your child, so if you feel the need to speak up, do not hesitate. Don’t be afraid to repeat questions so you can give the best home care to your child once you are released from the ER.

After you and your child return home, make sure to call your pediatrician’s office to inform them about the diagnosis. Often, your primary pediatrician will ask to see your child for a non-emergency/follow-up exam.