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When do you take a child to the emergency department and not a family?

Seek emergency care when it is life threatening and a true emergency, ie. seizure, deformed broken bone, difficulty breathing such as a severe asthma attack that isnt responding to home medication treatment, severe pain that is not improving with otc pain meds, head injury resulting in lost of consciousness or subsequent vomiting or mental alertness change, chest pain in someone over 40 or has heart disease, neurologic symptoms such as sudden decrease in alertness or ability to move, etc. Unfortunately, so many people clog ERs with minor illnesses from viruses that have fever, a day of diarrhea or vomiting, a rash, a cough or cold symptoms, a sprained ankle, a headache or inflammation from a bug bite or sting. Then they complain about the long wait time in the ER which is usually due to the fact that they should have never come there in the first place, and there is someone more urgent that truly NEEDS emergency care. People need to educate themselves about how to care for minor illnesses/fever. So many times patients are told that they have a virus causing the symptoms for which their is no cure, just time to allow the body to heal itself. They can try nasal saline to clear nasal secretions, Tylenol or Ibuprofen for pain/fever, rest and drink lots of fluids. They often get angry demanding an antibiotic for a virus when an antibiotic doesnt treat viruses and therefore NOT prescribed. Many medical practices have a phone triage advice line for advice. Otherwise, schedule an appointment or go to an urgent care clinic if you feel that you need to be seen.

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