When to take kids to ER

May 19, 2008 12:31:34 PM PDT
Parent, you know the dilemma. Your child is not feeling well, but is it serious enough to go to the E-R?

9-year-old Alexandra Fisher's recent bout with the croup literally took her breath away.

She recalls, "Well, it kind of felt like someone was like holding their hand around your throat. It was like you were sipping through a straw."

The doctor told Alexandra's mom to take her to the emergency room. Because her breathing was involved, the E.R. was the best place to go.

But Dr. David Cooperberg says it's not always, the best choice, " When the parent is faced with with an emergency, or a perceived emergency, it's important to sort of check your own pulse before you check that of the child."

Dr. Cooperberg, an emergency medicine specialist at Holy Redeemer Hospital, says nearly half of all E-R visits are for non-emergencies. A recent study shows parents tend to overreact especially to fevers.

Doctors say for kids three and under with temperatures over 100.5... And older kids with fevers higher than 104... need emergency care.

And symptoms like lethargy, difficulty walking or breathing also need immediate attention.

Dr. Cooperberg advises, "Clearly, if your child stopped breathing, you need to initiate CPR with rescue breaths and call 911."

He says knowing CPR and basic first aid can make all the difference in an emergency. And for the in-between injuries and illnesses.

"If it's something that you're not sure about, you can call your pediatrician or your family doctor and ask for further instruction," he says.

Health experts say the best approach for emergencies is to prepare before they happen. Keep medical histories on hand for every family member, as well as lists of all medications.

It can save valuable time in a real emergency.