Should I bring my child to the Emergency Department?

  • Not sure if your child is ill enough to attend an emergency department?

    If you have an issue with or are after advice about your child's health, please see your GP or contact Nurse on Call  as the emergency department cannot give you medical advice over the phone.  

    The Kids Health Info fact sheets have been developed to help you learn more about health topics, medical conditions and the services available at The Royal Children's Hospital. These may assist you with the care for your unwell child. 

    When your child is sick with a common virus, they may experience one of more of the following symptoms:

    Your GP can offer expert help

    Your local GP can offer expert advice on how to manage these symptoms, including how to give fluids to avoid dehydration, paracetamol or ibuprofen, or provide a script for antibiotics if necessary.

    Coughs, colds and gastro can be treated by your GP. Fever is a normal response to infections and common viruses and it is not always necessary to treat a fever. If your child is miserable or uncomfortable, you can provide paracetamol and ibuprofen to assist. Antibiotics do not help with viral illnesses such as a cold.

    Watch the video below for more information:

    When your child is very unwell

    Some of the signs to look out for that suggest you should take your child to your nearest emergency department or call an ambulance (000) are:

    • Difficulty breathing
    • Become very pale or blue around the lips
    • Drowsy or not responding to your voice
    • A rash that does not fade when pressed
    • A fit or a convulsion
    • Becoming very unwell quite quickly
    • An accident or injury such as a burn or broken bone

      Symptoms in young babies may include:

    • The soft spot on the top of their head is full or bulging
    • High pitched crying or screaming
    • Difficulty rousing or not waking for feeds

    Health resources

    The RCH has plenty of online information that can help with your health and hospital related questions. From health fact sheets to our own TV show, these resources are easy to understand and engaging for you and your family.

    Kids Health Info

    This site is dedicated to providing quality, up-to-date health information. Our fact sheets have been developed for parents and adolescents, and cover pertinent topics about medical conditions and the services available at the RCH. View our fact sheets here:

    Dr Margie

    Dr Margie addresses common and interesting questions about child and adolescent health through her blog from the perspective of a busy doctor, researcher and mother. Read her blog here: //

    Be Positive (B+)

    Be Positive (B+) is the RCH’s own TV show, designed to help children learn more about what happens in hospital. In a series of fun episodes, host Carly and her two loveable friends, Jazz and Rocco, will take you on a journey through common hospital procedures like having an X-ray, or getting a blood test. You can watch video clips from the show here: