Seven Reasons to Take Your Child to the ER

The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio has three emergency departments dedicated to caring for children experiencing a medical emergency.

Jendi Haug, M.D., Emergency Services Physician

Sometimes it is easy to know when to go to the ER – a broken bone or a cut that needs stitches. But often parents struggle with the decision of whether to take their child to the ER for other reasons.

The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio now has three emergency centers just for children. They are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, all weekends and all holidays.

Pediatric ERs are special emergency rooms that treat children from birth until age 17. The nursing staff, advanced practice providers such as nurse practitioners and physician associates, and physicians understand that children are not just little adults. Children have their own unique physiology that is different from adults.  Their illnesses and injuries are oftentimes not treated in the same manner as an adult with similar symptoms.  In a medical emergency, your child needs to see a doctor who only specializes in treating children.

At The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio, we know children are not little adults. They require the expert care of doctors and nurses specially trained in emergency pediatric medicine. Taking a wagon ride to get an X-ray is just one way we ease a child’s fears!

Here are some examples of major and minor instances when you should go directly to your nearest pediatric emergency room:

  1. Newborn with a fever: Any infant 30 days old or younger with a temperature of 100.4 degrees or higher needs medical attention. No matter how you take the baby’s temperature (armpit, forehead, frontal sensors, or rectally), a temperature of 100.4 warrants an assessment by a physician or APP.  Infants born premature or with underlying medical conditions are at an even higher risk of serious infection and should continue to come in even at older ages.
  2. Difficulty breathing:  Abnormal breath sounds like wheezing or stridor can be associated with bronchiolitis or croup or pneumonia. They can be scary and cause kids to breathe fast. Kids may start working to breath- belly breathing, sucking in the skin between their ribs or refusing to lie down. These are worrisome symptoms and need to be immediately evaluated.
  3. Extremity or bony deformity:  When there is an obvious deformity along with swelling or pain, they should be seen that same day for assessment of any possible fracture or dislocation.
  4. Abnormal/unusual behavior or altered mental status: You know your child and are the best gauge of your child’s behavior and their typical baseline. If something is not quite right, they need to see a medical provider for a complete evaluation.
  5. Open wounds not healing on their own: Wounds can be common for kids after a fall or other injury.  Wounds that are large enough to be considered lacerations should be repaired soon in order to obtain better wound healing and less scarring. In addition, good cleaning and irrigation will help to prevent infections.
  6. Prolonged vomiting and diarrhea: Infants and young toddlers can rapidly become dehydrated, so even a few hours of symptoms can make them sick.  Lack of a good amount of wet diapers or failure to urinate for a prolonged amount of time is a worrisome sign of dehydration for any child.
  7. Fainting or seizure activity: These symptoms should be assessed by a physician or advanced practice provider to determine why these episodes might be happening, especially if they are frequent or prolonged occurrences. A trip to the ER is warranted if your child has not been previously evaluated for fainting or seizures by a pediatric cardiologist or neurologist. Sometimes these symptoms are harmless, but they could also be related to serious medical conditions.

While this list is not exhaustive, these are just a few reasons why your child might require a visit to one of our emergency rooms.  When available, discuss any questions you might have regarding the need for emergency care with your child’s pediatrician.

The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio Emergency Center – Stone Oak is open and ready to help in any emergency medical situation.

To better meet the needs of our community, The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio recently opened a freestanding emergency center in north-central San Antonio at 1434 E. Sonterra Boulevard, near Highway 281.

In 2015, we opened the city’s first freestanding children’s ER at Westover Hills located at 11130 CHRISTUS Hills, Medical Plaza 3 (located off Highway 151).

The main campus of The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio is one of the largest pediatric emergency rooms in the city. It is located at 333 North Santa Rosa Avenue in the heart of downtown San Antonio.

At The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio, we care deeply about the children in our community and want to help your child during a medical emergency. Please visit our website to learn more about our three emergency department locations.

Author: The Children's Hospital of San Antonio

The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio is the first freestanding hospital in San Antonio solely dedicated to the care of children. Located in the heart of downtown San Antonio, The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio is owned by CHRISTUS Health System. Baylor College of Medicine, one of the top medical schools in the nation, is the academic partner of The Children’s Hospital with 170 pediatric subspecialists affiliated with Baylor. In addition, community physicians in private practice remain a valuable partner in the care of children in our community. We are a health care ministry that works to continually meet the needs of the community to extend the healing ministry of Jesus Christ, following the values and mission of our sponsoring congregations; Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word of Houston and San Antonio, as well as our newest sponsoring congregation, the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth.

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