When Should You Take Your Child to the ER?


If you’re a parent, you know how scary it can be when your child gets sick — especially in the middle of the night. Pediatric Emergency Physician Joey Gassen, MD, with Northern Nevada Emergency Physicians, joins Channel 4 KRNV (NBC) and Channel 11 KRXI (FOX) for Best Medicine Wednesday — a new weekly segment highlighting useful health information — and explains when it’s appropriate to take your child to the Children’s ER at Renown Children’s Hospital, and what type of comfort they offer both child and parent once they’re there.

As the first and only pediatric emergency doctor in our region, Joey Gassen, MD, knows a thing or two about caring for children — and their concerned parents — during an emergency. We picked his brain on everything from when to take your child to the ER, to what a children’s ER is all about.

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. The ER may also be necessary for allergic reactions, asthma or severe shortage of breath, choking or poisoning, coughing up or vomiting blood, fainting, confusion or seizures, fractures or broken bones, head injuries and severe bleeding.

With cold/flu season and winter coming up, what are some tips to keep your child out of the ER?

Cold weather does not cause colds or flu. But the viruses that cause colds and flu tend to be more common in the winter, when children are in school and are in closer contact with each other. Frequent hand-washing and teaching your child to sneeze or cough into their elbow can help reduce the spread of colds and flu. As it gets colder, set reasonable time limits on outdoor play to prevent hypothermia and frostbite. Have children come inside periodically to warm up.

And remember, all skiers and snowboarders should wear helmets. Protective, warm gear should also be worn while sledding.

What is different about Renown’s Children’s ER 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 go along with treatment.

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.

Learn more about Renown’s Children’s Hospital and Children’s ER by visiting renown.org.