What's Up Doc - Time for an Emergency Department Trip?

September 1, 2016

Time for an Emergency Department Trip?

Ross Taylor, Chief Medical Officer, Danville Regional Medical Center 

When illness or injury occurs after normal office hours, it may seem sensible to take your child to a hospital emergency department, even if he or she does not have a life-threatening condition. In some cases, however, it may be better to make a simple phone call.

“As a parent, I recognize that we often have trouble thinking reasonably when it comes to our own children’s health,” said Ross Taylor, M.D., Chief Medical Officer (CMO) at Danville Regional Medical Center. “However, for most non-life-threatening conditions, I suggest parents first contact their child’s primary care provider to determine if an emergency room visit is warranted.”

Know When to Go

Life-threatening conditions require immediate medical attention. You should immediately call 911 if your child experiences any of the following symptoms:
• halted breathing 
• heart failure
• unconsciousness

Other problems may require urgent care but do not necessitate a 911 call, such as:
• fever over 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit in infants
• vomiting that responds poorly to home treatment, such as drinking fluids
• severe asthma, wheezing, or difficulty breathing
• trauma, severe lacerations, or broken bones

Finally, if your child ingests a poisonous substance, contact a Poison Control Center first to determine whether your child needs immediate medical attention.

Just a Phone Call Away

Emergency care is usually unnecessary for cold symptoms, earaches, headaches, diarrhea, fever, sore throat, rash, or low-grade fevers. In these cases, parents should call their child’s primary care provider instead of taking him or her to the hospital.

“When in doubt, just call,” Dr. Taylor said. “Most physicians’ offices have after-hours answering services designed to provide advice and help you and your child avoid a trip to the hospital.”