Should I Take My Sick Child to the ER or Call After-Hours Care?

Dec 01, 2022
Should I Take My Sick Child to the ER or Call After-Hours Care?
When your child is sick, it’s natural to react based on worst-case scenarios, particularly if illness strikes outside of your pediatrician’s office hours. For your peace of mind, choose a practice with a robust, 24/7 after-hours care service.

As a parent, you want the best for your children, regardless of the situation. When illness strikes, it’s a natural reaction to fear the worst, even when your child’s symptoms and your experience tell you it’s most likely a minor problem. 

You’re hardly alone. It’s one of the reasons behind backlogs of acute pediatric cases in emergency rooms across the country. Parents play it safe when it comes to their children’s health, but the fact is, choosing the right level of care is an important part of your child’s care. 

At Abdow Friendship Pediatrics in Rockville, Maryland, Dr. Victor Abdow and our team offer 24/7 after-hours care so you always have access to our pediatricians. Often, a quick call can clarify where to turn when the danger of a health issue isn’t immediately obvious.

To further help you select the right level of care, we’ve prepared this guide to distinguish between noncritical illnesses and true emergencies. 

When emergency care is needed

There are situations where the emergency room is the right choice. While these tend to be obvious, the heat of the moment can interrupt clear thinking. Bring your child to an emergency room when they experience: 

  • Serious allergic reactions: trouble breathing, nausea, vomiting, unusual swelling
  • Broken bones: obvious or suspected, where a body deformity exists or includes a break in the skin
  • Breathing issues: wheezing, inability to catch their breath, or serious asthma attacks
  • Head injuries: blows to the head that produce symptoms like loss of consciousness, seizures, changes in speech or coordination, headache, or vision problems
  • Injuries to their eyes and the surrounding area
  • Burns: serious burns that cause blisters or large areas of pink skin
  • Newborns with fever: children less than two months old with a fever at or exceeding 100.4 Fahrenheit
  • Poisoning: ingesting substances such as household chemicals 
  • Bleeding: from wounds that won’t clot with direct pressure 
  • Harmful thoughts: including thoughts of suicide or self-harm
  • Dehydration: dark yellow urine, lethargy, elevated heart rate, and feeling cold

Any health incident that produces a marked, dramatic change in your child’s mood, behavior, or cognitive state may require emergency care. 

After-hours pediatric care

As a patient of our practice, feel free to contact us when your child shows symptoms of nonemergency illnesses. Some of the common reasons for after-hours calls are: 

  • Abdominal pain
  • Coughing
  • Respiratory illnesses that interfere with breathing
  • Diarrhea and other digestive issues
  • Fever
  • Head injuries without serious symptoms
  • Rashes or other skin issues
  • Sore throat
  • Sprains and strains
  • Vomiting

When in doubt about the right level of care, our doctors can help you make the right decision between waiting for an office visit or proceeding directly to the emergency department.

For conventional childhood illnesses and well child exams, contact our office by phone or online to schedule an appointment. We’re always ready to help at Abdow Friendship Pediatrics, so book your visit now.