What are life-threatening or serious-injury emergencies?

When should you go to the emergency room? When your child is in a situation that could be life-threatening or could result in permanent injury, go to the nearest emergency room or call 911 or your local emergency communications system (such as the police or fire department). Calling for help is often safer and will get your child the critical care you need more quickly.

1. Life at risk. Your child needs emergency care if she is:

  • Having a difficult time breathing or can’t catch her breath.
  • Having chest pain.
  • Choking.
  • Bleeding heavily and can’t stop it.
  • Suddenly unable to move or to speak.
  • Losing consciousness or fainting.
  • Having a seizure.
  • In a lot of pain, especially if the pain is sudden.
  • Having symptoms of being poisoned.
  • It’s a burn greater than the size of a palm.

2. Danger of permanent injury. Your child needs emergency care if he has:

  • Been deeply cut or severely burned.
  • Been attacked by an animal or another person.
  • Broken bones.
  • Been in a car accident.

If you’re not sure it’s an emergency, call your primary care provider. Your PCP will tell you what you should do: go to an urgent care center, go to the emergency room or make a doctor’s appointment. Even when the office is closed, a provider will be on-call to help you. Follow your doctor’s advice and instructions.

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