Ask the Expert: When to take your child to the emergency department

The opening of the pediatric emergency department at the Spence and Becky Wilson Baptist Children’s Hospital gives Mid-South parents another option if their children need immediate care. But when is an emergency department the best option? Dr. Jeannine Hogg, a pediatric hospitalist at the Baptist Women’s Hospital, offers some advice, however when in doubt, go to the emergency department.

[toggle title=”When should parents take their kids to the emergency department?” state=”open”]
  • When you need emergency medical care and your primary care provider is not available
  • When you have a life-threatening emergency that needs immediate medical care
  • When treatment or testing is not available from your primary care doctor
[/toggle] [toggle title=”What are the most common reasons to go to the emergency department?” state=”close”]
  • Car accidents
  • Falls
  • Ingesting something poisonous
  • Seizures
  • Prolonged high fevers
  • Persistent vomiting and diarrhea that has led to dehydration
  • Severe asthma attacks that are not responsive to home treatment
[/toggle] [toggle title=”Should you call someone before you go to the emergency department?” state=”close”] With the exception of an immediate, life-threatening emergency, it is always a good idea to call your primary care doctor first before taking your child to the emergency department.
[/toggle] [toggle title=”What do parents need to consider if their child has an accident?” state=”close”]
  • If it is safe to transport a child to the emergency department on your own
  • If emergency medical services should be contacted

If your child has ingested something harmful, you should contact the poison control center first.
[/toggle] [toggle title=”What are other options for pediatric urgent care?” state=”close”] Check with your primary care physician; many clinics have walk-in and same-day sick visits.