mom sitting with her two children in the waiting room of the Emergency Room at Wolfson Children's Hospital

9 Things to Know Before Taking Your Child to the ER

You know your child better than anyone else. If you think something’s not right, trust your gut! If you decide to make a trip to the ER, here are some things to know before you come:

  1. Your child’s doctor can help you decide. If you’re not sure if it’s a medical emergency, your pediatrician’s office is typically available 24/7 and can advise if you should go to the ER right away.
  2. A children’s ER is different. An ER affiliated with a children’s hospital has the specially trained staff to handle serious issues that may arise from seemingly minor symptoms.
  3. Be calm and clear. Even if your heart is racing, staying calm will help your child feel less anxious and you’ll be able to communicate more clearly to those who can help.
  4. Bring your child’s health history. The ER doctor will need to know about immunizations, previous illnesses, current health conditions, allergies and medications. Keep the information in yourpurse or diaper bag, along with his or her health insurance card.
  5. Give the ER team all the facts. Information about your child’s symptoms, when the first one appeared, how an injury occurred, etc. will help the ER doctor diagnose and treat your child more quickly.
  6. Tell your child what to expect. Let them know they’ll be examined by an ER doctor (not their regular one), and may need to have special tests to help them feel better sooner.
  7. Ask questions. You are your child’s best advocate and the ER team’s partner in care. Do not hesitate to ask for more information about the plan of care if you have concerns.
  8. Get clear discharge instructions. Make sure you know what to do to take care of your child once he’s home from the ER.
  9. Follow up with your child’s doctor. It’s a good idea to update your child’s medical history and make a follow-up appointment.