Guidelines for Medical Emergencies

Most medical emergencies are clear — your child is unconscious or has uncontrolled bleeding — and you know he or she needs emergency care. In the following cases, it's always best to call 911 to get your child to the hospital quickly:

  • Your child is having trouble breathing and is turning blue.
  • There has been a car accident and your child is unconscious or seriously injured. 
  • Your child is having a seizure that lasts 3-5 minutes, is having difficulty breathing, or is turning blue.
  • Your child loses consciousness or is not responsive.
  • Your child might have a neck or spine injury.
  • Your child has a head injury with a loss of consciousness, persistent vomiting, or is not responding normally.
  • Your child has significant uncontrolled bleeding.
  • Your child has a possible poisoning and is not responding normally or is having difficulty breathing. In any possible poisoning, call the Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222) for expert advice and they may direct you to the ER.

When To Call The Doctor

In other times, the situation may not be as clear. When your child is sick or in pain, it can be difficult as a parent. You want them to feel better and think the situation is urgent, but sometimes talking to your child's doctor before going to the ER may be best approach.

Call your child's doctor when in doubt. Sometimes the office nurse can talk with you and determine whether you should go to the ER. The following symptoms may require a call to your child's doctor:

  • High fever
  • Ear pain
  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Headache that doesn't go away
  • Rash
  • Mild wheezing
  • Persistent cough

Keeping Kids Healthy and Safe

Emergencies happen when you least expect them, but educating yourself about childhood emergencies and knowing how to address them is the first step in keeping your child healthy and safe. Information about some common childhood emergencies and conditions can be found below:

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