When should you go to the emergency room?

Big scratches? Little accident? Fever? Suspicious spots? Sure, your child is not well but should you go to the emergency room? Motherforlife helps you decide whether or not you should go.

You are the best person to evaluate the state your child is in. You know how he usually is so you can easily see some signals that can reveal that something is wrong. For example, the body temperature can vary a little bit (between 36.5 °C and 37.5 °C) depending on people and if a child can be feverish at 38°C, another will have no symptoms.

Nevertheless, in paediatrics, three cases out of four treated in the emergency room are not truly urgent. “The results reveal that more than 70% of the respondents consult either a paediatrician or a family doctor but 16% of them find it difficult to have an appointment. They then go one time out of two to Sainte-Justine hospital or, in 29% of the cases, in a clinic”, it is said in an article published in April 2003.

With the influenza A (H1N1) wave, visits multiplied so much that hospitals had to repeatedly issue notices reminding them to stay away from the emergency room if their children presented normal flu-like symptoms. Yet, nothing seems to be enough to change the parents minds, even the latency. The idea that a paediatrician, “THE specialist in childhood diseases”, will see their child is more important to them. According to Dr Sylvie Bergeron: “It is essential to develop parental confidence in family doctors who are in a better position to offer support and advice in many paediatric cases”.


Do you have an emergency kit at home to provide first aid should an incident occur?

Fill out a form with all the emergency contact numbers and keep it within easy reach, next to the phone or on the refrigerator.

Would you know what to do in an emergency?

By social concern and also to avoid clogging the emergency rooms, it is preferable to consult your family doctor, a walk-in clinic or a CLSC in your area to seek medical advice and possibly receive treatment for these common conditions:

  • Contagious diseases
  • Colds or flu
  • Ear infections
  • Eczema or skin problems
  • Cough
  • Sore throat, tonsillitis and pharyngitis
  • Bronchiolitis
  • Upper respiratory tract infections (URTI)
  • Gastroenteritis,
  • Diarrhea.
Some signals should not be overlooked
  • Skin paler than usual.
  • Heavy breathing, breathing sounds.
  • Your child is half-asleep and unusually lethargic. He can also be clingy.
  • Your child answers poorly or oddly to your questions. You notice slurred speech.
  • Your child does not respond as usual to certain stimuli (visual or auditory) or he finds it hard to pick up things that he usually picks up easily.
  • You child is not hydrated (has little saliva, no tears and urinates less often)
Be prepared!

On arrival, the emergency staff will ask you a few questions and you must be able to explain why your child is not his usual self.

You must tell the nurses if your child is on medication, the doses he took and when he took them.

If you have his vaccination records, you will not have to try to remember the last vaccines he received.

Tell the staff if your child is allergic to anything, what he recently had to eat or drink, everything you noted about his state. Tell them everything that they should know quickly.


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