When is it the right time to go to the Emergency Department?
*Disclaimer: I partnered with Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center to write this article but every word is mine.
Wellness Discussion-When is it Time to Go to the Emergency Department?
As an athlete and a mom my own personal wellness and the health and wellness of my family is always a top priority. When you feel good life is good! In our family we work hard to stay healthy by leading active lifestyles, eating a healthy and balanced diet that includes a lot of organic foods, and by (trying) getting plenty of rest. However sometimes life throws a monkey wrench into the works and sickness hits. When my kids get sick, training and daily work takes a backseat and I put on my “nurse” hat to try to get my kiddos feeling 100% again. Most illnesses that we have experienced in our house have ranged from your everyday cold, to the flu, to a stomach bug, the everyday childhood illnesses from the “petri-dish” of germs at school. Usually rest, nourishing food, and plenty of extra cuddles get the kids back up to speed in no time.
As a mom you need to be ready for anything. There have been several times that my kids have gotten sick and then instead of getting better they just got sicker. When my son Brock was only two months old he had a respiratory virus that started out mild but then once the fever came on we were having a hard time getting it to go down. Every night for several days his fever would spike and was not responding to medication. No soothing of any kind gave him any comfort and the mild crying became wails even with rocking and holding him close. Even though my son was my second child every situation where your child becomes very sick can be a little scary.
Keep them healthy!
As a mom I have learned that it is not always best to quickly race to the Emergency Department, there are other things that you can do first. We are lucky to have Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center under an hour away. We have always used Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock since giving birth to our two children there. We had already spoken to our pediatrician during the day about what was going on with Brock and were on a plan to wait and see before we came in for a doctor visit. During the night however it became clear to me that we might need to see a doctor before the sun came up. Before we raced off sleepy-eyed to the Emergency Room I called the hospital to speak to the pediatrician on call. In this case the pediatrician quickly made the decision with us that it would be best to come down to see the doctors in the DHMC Emergency Department. Since our baby was under 3 months his continued fevers over several days were an indicator of a possible infection that needed more exploration to be safe.
Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center Pediatric Emergency Department
As scary as this seemed in the middle of the night, we felt reassured be the pediatrician that we were taking the right steps by not waiting to bring him in. Babies have much weaker immune systems so waiting could have had drastic consequences. My husband stayed at home with our two year old who was thankfully still asleep in her bed and I buckled my sweet boy into his car seat. The wait in the emergency room at Dartmouth Hitchcock was brief and we were quickly taken back to the special pediatric area in the Emergency Department. The pediatric doctors working that night quickly assessed Brock and determined that they should do a spinal tap to rule out meningitis. The doctors and nurses were kind and allowed as how this procedure can be difficult for moms and dads to see. I was taken to wait in a cheerful waiting area and brought back in as soon as possible so I could comfort and feed Brock. Thankfully the test were negative for any kind of serious infection and Brock was treated and as the sun came up we were able to head back home.
In this situation we needed to go to the Emergency Department but we made sure that it was the right choice before we headed in. We took several steps before heading in for our visit to make sure that it was the right choice because an emergency room visit can be expensive, there can be a long wait and sometimes the medical issue is something that is best taken care of by a Primary Care doctor or something that can be addressed at a Minute Clinic.
Have you ever needed to visit an Emergency Department? How did you decide to go? How was your experience?