A new parent's guide to navigating the emergency room.
Your newborn spikes a fever. Or, your 1-year-old wheezes heavily after tasting peanut butter. Suddenly, after a call to the pediatrician, you’re heading to the emergency room. It can be frightening, but there are ways to prepare, such as researching which local hospitals have urgent-care pediatricians on staff. Here’s what else to know before you go:
For immediately life-threatening conditions, such as choking, call 911. Otherwise, drive directly to the ER. When you arrive, a greeter will record your child’s name, date of birth and a description of the injury or illness. “Remain calm, be patient and be prepared to answer questions,” advises Christopher Haines, D.O., FAAP, FACEP, director of emergency medicine for St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children in Philadelphia.
What to Expect
Most often, a nurse will initially evaluate your child’s vital signs to determine how quickly he requires care. In most cases, you’ll be encouraged to remain by his side at all times. Studies show children are undertreated relative to adults, so don’t be afraid to advocate for pain medication if needed, says Haines.
If Additional Care is Needed
When your child needs to be admitted overnight, you may need to wait for a bed in a pediatric ward. If there are no inpatient pediatric facilities, an ambulance will transfer your child to the nearest one. When he’s discharged, be sure to get follow- up care details.
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