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The first purpose of Pediatric HouseCalls Symptom Checker, 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 care guides.

Here are some instructions for using HouseCalls Symptom Checker:

Select a Guideline: 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 care guide 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.

Use the Guideline: There are three parts of each topic or symptom.

  1. Definition. Go to the selected 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)".

  2. When to Call Your Doctor: 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 Within 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 child's illness or injury. If your child has even one of the serious or other "Call Your Doctor" symptoms, stop reading the list of other 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.

  3. 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 child's condition changes for the worse, calling your doctor again is a good idea.


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.

Author and Senior Reviewer: Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.

Content Set: Pediatric HouseCalls Symptom Checker

Pediatric HouseCalls Symptom Checker

© 2000-2019 The StayWell Company, LLC. 800 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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