KNOW WHERE TO GO: Getting Care from Your Pediatrician or an Emergency Room

After a complicated year when most of us questioned even the smallest symptom—a dry cough, a runny rose, an upset stomach—many people are returning to some sense of normalcy. While Covid-19 has taken enormous tolls, several studies indicate that fewer pediatric patients were seen in an emergency room since the pandemic started.

The cause many be attributed to a number of factors, including families trying to avoid additional virus exposure or the overall decline in activity leading to fewer illnesses and injuries, but the fact remains that more kids are staying out of the ER.

While it’s the ideal place for truly emergent problems, ERs have historically been overused. An appointment with your pediatrician may be the better option depending on your child’s symptoms. The table below may be used as a guide to worthwhile ER utilization. You will see that most ER conditions are quite specific, whereas a primary care physician can treat a wide range of issues.

Go to the ERCall Your Pediatrician
– Life-threatening or disabling conditions
– Sudden or unexplained loss of consciousness
– Severe shortness of breath
– Chest pain
– Body numbness or difficulty speaking
– Fever over 100.4 degrees in an infant less than 6 weeks old
– Coughing up or vomiting blood
– Cut or wound that won’t stop bleeding
– Broken bones and major injuries
– Allergic reactions to food or medication
– Threats of bodily harm to self or others
– Accidental or intentional poisoning, including medication overdose 
(Poison Control- (800) 222-1222)
– Fever, sore throat, and congestion or runny nose
(We can test for Covid-19)
– Respiratory symptoms such as cough or wheezing
– Ear discomfort
– Digestive upset, vomiting, or diarrhea
– Urinary pain or other pelvic discomfort
– Headaches, including migraines
– Skin irritations including rash, eczema, skin allergies, poison ivy, bug bites, and fungal breakouts
– Asthma exacerbations
– Minor injuries, falls, or pains
– Changes in appetite, sleep, or behavior
– Need for medication

If you’re worried about seeing a physician quickly, you have options for reaching your pediatrician’s office even if they’re closed. Every ONE Pediatrics practice offers online scheduling for sick visits, so you can make an appointment on their website any time. If you don’t see the time slot you need, we encourage you to call so the office can accommodate you.

              The best thing about an emergency room is that they’re prepared to treat serious illnesses and injuries as quickly as possible. Otherwise, they can be time-consuming, expensive, and risk of further germ exposure.

“Bear in mind that an ER is not the only place to receive a test or scan that your child might need,” says Dr. Greg Robson at Oldham County Pediatrics. “By contacting your primary care provider first, you give us a chance to make recommendations with your child’s symptoms, history, and insurance coverage in mind. We can also test for Covid-19, getting results faster and reducing the spread for other at-risk patients who truly need the ER.”

The table above is not a complete list of everything your child may experience. When in doubt, a quick call to your pediatrician’s office and/or online appointment request certainly won’t hurt. We’re prepared to advise when an ER visit is appropriate, but there may be a simpler solution for a healthy, happy kid.