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When to bring your child to the BC Children's Hospital Emergency Department

Having a sick child can be stressful, but it helps to know when it’s time to seek emergency treatment.
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Emergency departments can be busy and sometimes, to avoid long unnecessary waits, your child’s illness could best be treated at a doctor's office, a walk-in clinic or an urgent primary care centre. If your child is not seriously ill, contact HealthLink BC at 8-1-1 for immediate health advice.  

Take your child to the emergency department if they have:

  • a persistent high fever for more than four days
  • excessive coughing, especially with a fever
  • an injured limb that looks swollen or crooked
  • not urinated within 12 hours and have stopped drinking fluids
  • blue lips and skin that appears pale
  • trouble breathing, especially with rapid or laboured breathing patterns
  • excessive vomiting, particularly if it is bright green or there is blood in the vomit
  • ingested a toxic chemical, including a suspected drug or alcohol overdose
  • fallen more than five feet or 1.5 metres
  • started vomiting after a head injury
  • a visible bump after a head injury and the child is less than three months old  
  • lost consciousness 

Other care services

If your child is thinking about ending their life, get urgent help by calling 9-1-1 or 1-800-SUICIDE.

For a mental health crisis, in Vancouver Coastal Health, you can contact the Child and Adolescent Response Team (CART) and in Fraser Health Authority, you can contact The Short Term, Assessment, Response, Treatment (START) Team.

For a possible poisoning or exposure to a toxic substance, call Poison Control at 1-800-567-8911.

Take your child to a family doctor/walk-in clinic or urgent/primary care centre for non-life threatening illness or injuries:

  • rash
  • pink eye
  • earache
  • cough, cold, sore throat
  • fever in child 3 months or older
  • strain or sprain

If your family doctor is not available, check for walk-in clinic wait times and hours or see a doctor virtually through TELUS Health MyCare or Viva Care

COVID-19 testing

To find locations for COVID-19 testing, visit the BCCDC website.

BC Children's Hospital
Children's Health
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