It's every parent's nightmare: a medical emergency involving your child. Whether it's difficulty breathing or a fall at the park, knowing when to call 911 can help you cope quickly and efficiently with childhood emergencies and stay calm under pressure.
Here are some guidelines for 7 of the most common medical emergencies in children:
Last November, Dennis and Kimberly Quaid's newborn twins received about 1,000 times the recommended dose of heparin, a drug used to flush out medication IV lines and prevent blood clotting problems, when they were hospitalized for staph infections at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.
Shortly after the twins were released from the hospital last year (they are now doing fine), Dennis and Kimberly set up The Quaid Foundation (www.thequaidfoundation.org), dedicated to reducing medical mistakes...
Respiratory distress refers to difficulty breathing and taking in enough oxygen. Causes may include choking, asthma, an infection, or pneumonia. The signs of respiratory distress are coughing, wheezing, labored breathing (especially flaring of the nose and use of chest and neck muscles to aid breathing), grunting, inability to talk, or turning blue.
When to Call 911:
The rate of breathing is greater than 50 to 60 breaths per minute.
The child is turning blue around the mouth.
The condition is worsening instead of improving.
If these signs are present, don't try to put your child in a car -- call an ambulance. The paramedics can deliver oxygen and get your child safely to the hospital.
2. Broken Bones
Broken bones are common childhood emergencies. While these injuries are usually not life-threatening, the child should be taken to a hospital or urgent care center for evaluation. Generally speaking, parents can drive kids with broken bones to the hospital themselves.
When to Call 911:
The break is so severe that you can't control the pain.
The bone is sticking out of the skin.
The accident involves trauma to the head or neck.
The accident has caused a state of altered consciousness.
3. Vomiting and/or Diarrhea
Vomiting and/or diarrhea can require emergency care if a child becomes dehydrated. If your child can't keep anything down or has severe diarrhea, watch for signs of dehydration such as sunken eyes, dry mucus membranes, and abnormally low amounts of urine. If any of these appear your child should be evaluated by the doctor