Children's ER, Urgent Care or Wait it Out? Here's Your Guide

February 15, 2019

Doctor, nurses and children sitting

We’ve all been there: Your child gets sick right after urgent care closes — or worse, in the middle of the night. So do you wait it out, or do you load up and head to the Children’s ER? Pediatric Emergency Physician Joey Gassen, MD, with Northern Nevada Emergency Physicians, has insight.

As parents, we often wish we had all the answers. And while a short-and-sweet comprehensive parenting guide is elusive, we can help if your questions involve whether to go to the children’s ER or wait it out. Here, a pediatric emergency physician explains when you should take your child to the Children’s ER at Renown Children’s Hospital, and what makes a children’s ER different.

How do you know when it’s time to take your child to the ER?

Having a sick or injured child is stressful. If you have a true emergency, you should go straight to the ER or call 911.

When to go to the ER:

  • Allergic reactions
  • Asthma or severe shortness of breath
  • Fever (infants less than two months old)
  • Choking or poisoning
  • Coughing up or vomiting blood
  • Fainting, confusion or seizures
  • Fractures or broken bones
  • Head injuries
  • Severe bleeding

If you determine your child’s condition isn’t life-threatening but needs to be taken care of right away, urgent care is the best choice. Those conditions include:

  • Cold and flu
  • Coughs and sore throat
  • Fevers
  • Vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain
  • Cuts and severe scrapes
  • Minor injuries and burns

What is different about Renown Children’s ER compared to the adult ER?

The difference starts when you first bring your child in. We have a lobby dedicated to our community’s smallest patients. The 24/7 lobby incorporates a child-friendly atmosphere with vibrant colors to help decrease anxiety that can accompany emergency situations.

Our children’s ER also has equipment sized just for kids of any age. We offer a distraction machine, as well as games and movies, to help children cope with what can be a traumatic experience, like getting an IV. In addition, we have Child Life Specialists available to provide the emotional support to both children and their families.

Why is it important to have an emergency room and lobby open 24/7 dedicated to children?

Children aren’t just little people. They have special needs that require specialized care. Our children’s ER is staffed with skilled physicians and pediatric nurses certified in advanced pediatric emergency care to give your child the highest level of support.

Renown Children’s Hospital

From newborns to teens, Renown Children’s Hospital offers many different services and treatments designed specifically to take care of our community’s children. We provide a range of specialized services — from a dedicated Children’s ER and Pediatric ICU to a children’s imaging center and child’s asthma program.

Explore Children’s Services


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