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When to Use the Pediatric Emergency Department

September 27, 2019
Parents may struggle sometimes to decide whether they should take their children to a pediatrician or to the Emergency Department. During a recent interview on To Your Health, Laura B. Scott, MD, Director of the Pediatric Emergency/Inpatient Unit at GBMC, weighs in on which symptoms or situations warrant a visit to the ED, and explains some of the care techniques her team utilizes to help reassure sick or hurt children. Dr. Scott recommends that parents keep an open line of communication with their child’s pediatrician or family care physician to discuss illnesses and injuries first, but in general, the following issues are worth a trip to the ED:

Trouble breathing (breathing faster or harder than normal)
Seizures
Burns, bad cuts, or falls from great height
Possible broken bones
Accidental medication or ingestion of harmful substances
Mental health concerns

She notes that high fevers are especially difficult to decide. For especially young children, a fever is often an emergency. In older children, it’s not always about how high the fever is, but how long it has lasted and how the child is feeling otherwise (drinking, urinating, acting like themselves).
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