When to Bring Your Child to the ER

The Children’s Hospital advises parents call their child's primary care provider (PCP) if they are not concerned for a life-threatening emergency and are unsure about where to go. Your PCP should be able to advise you on the best course of action.

If you believe your child needs immediate attention and you have concerns for a life-threatening emergency, call 911.

  • Your child's skin or lips have turned blue
  • Your child is unresponsive
  • Your child has had a change in mental status, such as suddenly becoming unusually sleepy or difficult to wake, disoriented or confused
  • Your child is having serious trouble breathing (chest retracts and lips and/or fingers turn blue)
  • Your child has sustained a head injury with continuous vomiting or changes in level of alertness
  • Your child has ingested something you believe is dangerous. Call Poison Control first at 800-222-1222
  • Your child has suffered a blunt or penetrating injury to the eye and has eye pain
  • An object is stuck in your child (do not pull it out)
  • Your child has a cut in the skin that is bleeding and won't stop
  •  Your child has a stiff neck along with a fever
  • Your child has a rapid heartbeat that doesn't slow down
  • Your child has numbness, tingling, paralysis or weakness on one side of the body
  • Unexplained slurred speech or difficulty speaking
  • Severe headache or migraine along with blurred vision, difficulty speaking, numbness tingling or paralysis
  • Your child has swallowed something AND has difficulty breathing (call 911)
  • Your child is having seizures that won't stop
  • Your child has a fracture and the bone is sticking out
  • Anyone younger than 18 who may be suicidal, homicidal or felt to be a threat to themselves or others
  • Anyone younger than 18 who may have experienced acute sexual abuse or neglect

What to do if you're still unsure

When in doubt, bring them to Children’s. The Children’s Hospital has the only 24/7 pediatric emergency room in the metro, which means child-size equipment and pediatric specialists, as well as on-site labs and other tests. Remember that when you know the problem is minor, it's best to contact your child's primary care doctor first.

Resources:

Responding to Emergencies
When to go to the ER
Responding to a Child’s Poisoning 
How to Call for ​Emergency ​Help
How to Take Your Child's Temperature
Ten Things ​for Parents to Know Before Heading to the ER 
Injuries and Emergencies
Flu and Seasonal Information

 Tools:

OK Kids MD