Babies and children - when to go to an emergency department
A paediatric emergency department is a hospital A&E that treats children.
Your nearest paediatric emergency department might be in a children's hospital. It could also be in an adult hospital emergency department that admits children.
If you think your child needs to visit an emergency department, bring them to a paediatric hospital emergency department if possible. This is an A&E that treats children. These hospitals have expertise in treating children.
Go to your nearest paediatric emergency department if your child:
- is hard to wake, unusually drowsy or does not seem to know you
- is breathing unusually, either faster or slower than usual, or grunting
- has a high temperature and severe headache or neck stiffness
- has had a head injury and vomits more than once
- has a large burn or scald, or if the burn or scald is on their hands, face or genitals
- has an eye injury
- has a persistent fever, or feels unusually cold or floppy
- has an unusual or high-pitched cry
- has a hoarse cough with noisy breathing or is wheezing
- is wheezing and is unable to speak
- has ingested medication, a poison or a chemical
- has been bitten by an animal (unless a very minor wound)
- gets an electric shock
- has something stuck in their eyes, ears or nose
Injury units are available in some parts of the country. They treat injuries that are not life-threatening.
Most injury units treat patients over 5 years of age. Some injury units have higher age limits.