The first purpose of these topics, is to help you determine how sick your child is and if you need to call your child's doctor. The second purpose is to help you treat your child at home when it is safe to do so.Your doctor's advice and your good judgment should always take precedence over information in these topics.
Here are some instructions for using these topics:
- Choose the Appropriate Topic. Choose the topic that most closely matches your child's symptoms.
- If your child has more than one symptom, address the most serious symptom. Serious means the symptom that potentially could cause the most harm to your child. (Example: for nosebleed and head injury together, use the Head Injury guideline.) If you aren't sure which topic to use, use more than one guideline.
- Caution: don't use the fever guideline unless fever is your child's only symptom. If your child also has a cough, diarrhea or other symptom, go to that topic instead of fever.
- Choosing the appropriate symptom is very important because it leads you to the best information for your child's illness or injury.
- Read the Definition. Go to the chosen topic and read the Definition to be sure it's a good fit for your child's problem. If not, consider related symptoms listed under the section, "See More Appropriate Topic (instead of this one)".
- Read the When to Call Your Doctor - Decision Chart Section: Following the Definition section in each topic, there is a Decision Chart, which gives options for what action you should take, including Call 911, Call Your Doctor Now, Call Your Doctor in 24 Hours, and so on. Below each response is a list of symptoms/reasons for using that option. Read through these bulleted items. Read from top to bottom and don't skip any symptoms or reasons. The purpose of these is to help you determine the seriousness of your situation.
- Follow the Suggestions in the Decision Chart. If your child has even one of the serious or other "Call Your Doctor" symptoms, stop reading the list of reasons to call your doctor and take the action suggested in the heading at the top of the list. If the recommendation is to call your doctor within 24 hours or during weekday office hours, refer to the Home Care Advice section to help you keep your child comfortable until then.
- Follow Home Care Advice. If your child has none of the "Call Your Doctor" symptoms, follow the Home Care Advice listed in the final section. But watch your child carefully for any worsening or new symptoms. If your condition changes for the worse, calling your doctor again is a good idea.
- Reader's Responsibility. Finally, you are in control of this process. If you think or feel your child needs to be seen, call your doctor for assistance or go to the nearest emergency department.
If you think that your child is having a medical emergency, call 911 or the number for the local emergency ambulance service NOW!
And when in doubt, call your doctor NOW or go to the closest emergency department.
Disclaimer: This information is not intended be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.
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Author and Senior Reviewer: Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.
Last Reviewed: 8/1/2006
Last Revised: 11/11/2006
Copyright 1994-2006 Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.