Prepare for Your Child’s Trip to the ER During the Pandemic

Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on June 19, 2020

Taking your child to the emergency room may be stressful in the best of times. But a trip to the ER during the COVID-19 pandemic may worry you even more than usual.

If your child has an urgent medical problem, don’t let your concerns about catching the new coronavirus prevent you from getting help right away. It’s safe to go to the hospital. Delays could worsen your child’s injury or illness.

Is It an Emergency?

Trust your own judgment as a parent. If you feel that your child needs emergency care, don’t hesitate.

If you’re unsure, call your doctor or 911. It’s possible that your pediatrician can help your child without a visit, using telemedicine on the phone or your computer.

Here are some of the symptoms that usually need urgent medical attention:

  • Unusual or severe asthma episodes or breathing problems
  • Fainting, seizures, or loss of consciousness
  • Strange behavior, such as confusion or problems walking
  • Bad diarrhea or vomiting that doesn’t get better
  • Broken bone, heavy bleeding, and other serious wound
  • Sudden or severe pain anywhere in the body

If you have an infant under a month of age and they have a fever of 100.4 or higher, call your pediatrician or go to the hospital.

Prepare for Your Trip

Call ahead to your hospital. Ask about any specific instructions during COVID-19.

If possible, leave any other children or family members at home. Fewer people at the hospital lessens the chance of spreading the coronavirus.

Both you and your child should wear mask. Kids under age 2 may not need to, depending on the emergency room. If you forget to bring your masks, the hospital will provide them.

If your child is very young, you might explain that the doctors and other staff may be wearing masks, face shields, and other protection gear. Tell them it’s for everyone’s safety.

On Arrival

Different hospitals may have different rules. You may have to park your car in a specific place. Or someone may park your car for you.

You and your child likely will be screened for COVID-19 symptoms. If you have a possible infection, the ER staff may move you to a separate area away from others. Visitors will be seated at least 6 feet away from each other in the waiting room.

Depending on your child’s condition, they may be treated right away, or you may have to wait a while. It’s possible that you may not be allowed to stay by your child during the whole time at the ER. Know that your child will be in good care.

WebMD Medical Reference



Hackensack Meridian Health: “Taking Kids to the Emergency Department During COVID-19 Outbreak.”

Legacy Health: “When to Take Your Child to the ER.” “Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic: What to Do if Your Child Is Sick.”

Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Health: “Is it safe to go to the emergency room during COVID-19? Yes, it’s still safe.”

Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital: “Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information for Patients and Families.”

Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia: “Your Child’s Emergency Department Visit.”

American Heart Association: “Is it safe to go to the hospital during COVID-19 pandemic? Doctors say yes.”

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