When your child has a minor illness or injury, your pediatrician is the best place to go to get care from a team that knows your family. In the case of a medical emergency, however, your child needs the kind of assistance that paramedics, an emergency room or an urgent care are best suited to provide. But how do you know what constitutes a “medical emergency?”Child with IV in parents arms


First, it is important to keep in mind that if you are unsure about how serious your child’s medical condition is but are concerned that it might be life threatening, a call to 911 is always a good idea. However, the guidelines below can help give you a sense of what kind of action you need to take.


Let Medical Assistance Come to You

With some injuries or illnesses, transporting your child to a hospital or urgent care may take up valuable time that would be better used on getting treatment started. Call 911 and request emergency medical assistance if your child:

  • Suffers a severe burn
  • Has an injury to the spine or neck
  • Is choking and you cannot free-up their breathing
  • Has bleeding that cannot be controlled
  • Has consumed a toxic substance
  • Suffers a head injury and loses consciousness
  • Has a seizure that lasts more than five minutes


Take Your Child to the Emergency Room

Some conditions require prompt medical care. Take your child to the emergency room if they:

  • Are having difficulty breathing
  • Have a high fever with a stiff neck and headache
  • Have a broken bone that breaks through the skin
  • Are coughing up or vomiting blood
  • Have a persistent racing heartbeat
  • Experience a sudden loss of sight, speech or movement
  • Suffer a serious burn
  • Experience vomiting along with dry mouth and a lack of tears and urine for 8 or more hours, or seem delirious
  • Have a severe reaction to food, medication, an insect bite or sting, etc., including shortness of breath, swelling of the lips or mouth, mental confusion or persistent vomiting
  • Are difficult to wake up
  • Have a body part near an injured bone that is cold/pale, tingling or numb
  • Suffer a deep wound with significant bleeding
  • Are less than 2 months old and have a rectal temperature greater than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit


Visit Your Pediatrician or an Urgent Care if After Hours

Most medical conditions that children experience can be handled by your pediatrician or, if it is after hours, an urgent care. Use one of those providers if your child seems to need medical attention related to:

  • A cough, cold or sore throat
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Minor cuts or scrapes
  • An earache
  • A sprain or strain
  • A urinary tract or bladder infection


When in Doubt…

Again, if you are unsure about the seriousness of an illness or injury, seek medical advice. You may be told that you can manage the condition at home or instructed to get assistance, but either way, it is a good idea to talk with a medical professional. To schedule an appointment with a pediatrician at Mountainland Pediatrics, please contact us at (303) 430-0823.