Right Care, Right Place: Where to Turn When Your Child Is Sick

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Health Tip of the Week

Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) is dedicated to ensuring your child receives the best care possible. Your primary care provider is always the first line of care for your child. The CHOP Care Network provides many ways to seek medical care for your child when your pediatrician's office is closed. The following information can help you determine the best place to seek care when your child is sick or injured. Making thoughtful choices about where to seek care can help emergency rooms stay ready for families who need them most.

Primary Care / Urgent Care

Most of the following symptoms can be managed at home or with a call to your pediatrician, who can help you determine the right place to seek care. They may schedule a sick visit, recommend a telehealth appointment or refer you to the Emergency Department (ED).

Many ailments can also be managed by your pediatrician during normal office hours. If you need immediate assistance after hours, call your pediatrician’s office to speak to an after-hours nurse. If care can’t wait until your pediatrician’s office reopens, find an Urgent Care center near you.

  • Allergies
  • Asthma flare-up
  • Breathing trouble (mild)
  • Broken bone (minor, skin intact)
  • Burns, cuts & bites (minor)
  • Chest pain (mild)
  • Dehydration (mild, urinating every 8 hours)
  • Cough & congestion
  • Dizziness
  • Earache / ear pain
  • Fainting (w/ normal behavior)
  • Fever (children over 2 months of age)
  • Headache (mild)
  • Head injury (minor)
  • Rash
  • Sore throat
  • Mild stomach pain


Don’t forget: you are the best judge of your child’s needs. If your child has alarming symptoms or is in pain, don’t hesitate to seek emergency care.

Use this symptom checker for help determining how serious your child’s symptoms are, if a visit to the doctor is needed, and what steps you can take to relieve symptoms at home.

Watch this helpful video for more about managing your child’s fever.

Emergency Care

For these or other serious or life-threatening situations, go to the Emergency Department (ED) right away.

  • Allergic reactions (severe, anaphylaxis)
  • Asthma attack (severe)
  • Bleeding that won’t stop 
  • Breathing trouble (severe)
  • Broken bone (major, skin torn, bone out of place)
  • Burns, cuts & bites (major, dog bites)
  • Chest pain (severe)
  • Dehydration (severe)
  • Eye or facial injury
  • Fainting (severe, abnormal behavior)
  • Fever over 100.4°F in children under 2 months of age
  • Headache (severe or prolonged)
  • Head injury (major)
  • Psychiatric emergency
  • Seizure
  • Stomach pain (severe)
  • Swallowed button battery

Poisonings/ Swallowed Objects

Call the Poison Control Center hosted at CHOP at 1-800-222-1222, and a specially trained nurse or pharmacist will assist you. This free hotline is available 24/7. *IMPORTANT: If you think your child swallowed a button battery, go to an emergency room right away.

COVID-19 Testing

For COVID-19 testing for your child, use the retail or public health sites in your community. This helps free up space in the ED for serious medical emergencies.

CHOP Doctors are Closer Than You Think

Did you know that CHOP doctors are on staff in the emergency departments and inpatient pediatric units at several community hospitals throughout the region? Kids have even more options to access the expert pediatric care they need, closer to their homes! See locations near you.

Stay in Touch

Are you looking for advice to keep your child healthy and happy? Do you have questions about common childhood illnesses and injuries? Subscribe to our Health Tips newsletter to receive health and wellness tips from the pediatric experts at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, straight to your inbox. Read some recent tips.

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