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Our Experience of a Medical Emergency with Baby

  1. #1
    sherwes is offline Registered User
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    Our Experience of a Medical Emergency with Baby

    I have lived in HK for less than a year and have always had a worry in the back of my mind as to the appropriate proceedure to follow in the case of a medical emergency with my 16 month old - i.e. reliability of the ambulance service, which hospital, would my inability to speak Cantonese hinder treatment in an emergency?? Unfortunately, a couple of weeks ago just such an emergency occured. I thought it might be helpful for other mums to hear about my experience as it might put you minds at rest about the quality of care in HK.

    Our baby had had a chesty cough for a few days. We took him to the paed who (due to his history of bronchitis and my recent hospitalisation with the same bug) treated him aggressively with antibiotics, nebulizer and Singulair. A few hours after we went to the paed my husband noticed that our boy's lips were blue and his hands and feet very cold. We called the paed who told us that this was a classic sign of an impending high fever and that we should give him some panadol and keep and eye on him. We gave the pandadol and a few hours later put him to bed for the evening and checked on him regularly.

    At 11pm we were in bed and our baby's breathing alarm went off. We have one of those sensors under his matress that sounds an alarm if there is no movement for 20 seconds. We rushed into the room and he was non responsive. My husband started moving him around and shouting his name while I called the ambulance. After about 10 seconds he seemed to respond (but it felt like 10 minutes!). I called the ambulance.

    The person on the line at the ambulance service spoke good English and was able to confirm our address details by tracing our phone number. The ambulance arrived in under 5 mins and contained 3 paramedics. The "lead" paramedic spoke good English and we were easily able to make ourselves understood. They were very professional. By this point our baby was happily sitting up and smiling at the paramedics.

    We then had the choice of either taking our son to the Queen Mary or to a private hospital. We have excellent health insurance but decided to go to the Queen Mary because it is a large teaching hospital that is well equipped for medical emergencies and has a full A&E service. I have since spoken to a friend of mine who is a doctor in HK who said that for a genuine medical emergency where time is critical they would choose the QMH for the reasons I've said above. My private paed has also confirmed the excellent quality of care in the public system in HK. We arrived in the ambulance and the service we received was amazing. We were seen by a triage nurse within 3 minutes of arrival. Within 5 mins of arrival we were seen by an emergency doctor and our boy was put on oxygen and they began monitoring him. Within 8 mins of arrival we were seen by a paed. Within 15 mins of arrival we had a chest x-ray. All of the staff spoke English and we had no problems making ourselves understood. All in all, I feel that it was better service than I would have received at home in Australia!

    We were then transferred to the paed ward and spent 30 minutes going over his medical history, having blood and muscus tests and talking through the x-ray results. We were given a provisional diagnosis of febrile seizure and checked in to the hospital. Because of the previous fever we were put in an isolation ward. The nurses checked on us periodically and did a wonderful job. I think that the fact that our son was the only caucasian baby on the ward and that he is fair haired and smiley meant he got more attention! Now, the QMH is no luxury hotel. It is very basic but probably on par with the large underfunded public hospitals in Australia. There are pull out beds but only one parent is allowed to stay the stay the night. The beds are super narrow and hard and no bedding is provided. At 6am the nurses come and wake the parents up and make them put the beds way. Parents are not allowed to bring any food for themselves on to the ward which makes it hard if only one parent is allowed tostay - i.e. you need to leave your child in order to eat.

    The next morning we were seen by the senior paed and also by the 8 paeds in training who were following her around. We also had an ECG performed. The diagnosis of febrile seizure caused by high fever was confirmed (even though we hadn't seen him with the fever). It was recommended to keep him in hospital for a couple of nights to treat the chest infection which was the cause of the fever.

    We spoke with our private paed who told us that she actually wasn't allowed to come and treat him at QMH (because the private and public systems are seperate). Because we wanted continuity of care with our usual paed and, because the situation was stable, decided to move to the Adventist Hospital. At the Adventist everything went smoothly and he was discharged after another 36 hours and is now perfectly fine. The Adventist has lovely comfy beds for the parents to stay in and food for the parents is only a phone call away (I realise this isn't important when your little one is sick but mention it anyway).

    The cost of the QMH was $50 for the overnight stay, x-ray, ECG, blood tests, mucus tests etc plus $100 for the A&E admission. It appears that the ambulance service was free as we haven't paid anything for that. The cost of the overnight stay plus blood tests etc at the Adventist was $23,000!

    Anyway, the point of this very, very long post is to let other expat mums know of the excellent service we received from the ambulance service and the QMH and to help put other mum's minds at ease that in a medical emergency we received excellent care and had no difficulties being understood.

  2. #2
    karmah1's Avatar
    karmah1 is offline Registered User
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    Thanks for sharing Sherwes, I'm glad your little boy recieved such great care and has recovered.

    Could you let me know what the breathing alarm sensor is that you use. I've never heard of it and it sounds like a good idea. Did you get it in HK or Australia? My son is only 3 months and we are moving back to Australia next week, but this sounds like a good investment. As I always wake in the middle of the night to check he is still breathing...maybe I'm just a paranoid first time mum.

  3. #3
    jaetee is offline Registered User
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    So glad your baby is fine now. :)

  4. #4
    sherwes is offline Registered User
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    We actually purchased the breathing alarm in Australia. My husband purchased it as he was a very paranoid first time dad! I think it cost about AUD300. The brand is Highsense but there is another popular brand called Angelcare. The large baby shops and department stores in Sydney will have them.

  5. #5
    rani's Avatar
    rani is offline Administrator
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    Sherwes, thanks for sharing your experience. Am glad your little boy is better.

  6. #6
    joannek is offline Registered User
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    angelcare monitor also provide breathing alarm, i bought ours at bumps 2 babes.

    so glad u had a good experience w/ the local healthcare system. really proud to hear that as i am local chinese. but i heard that they treat foreigners (english speaking white people) better at QMH. cos there are so many stories that local chinese are not treated as efficiently as your son has been.

  7. #7
    megan2008 is offline Registered User
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    We have a tomee tipee motion sensor which is slightly cheaper than the angel care and it works well. The only thing with the sensor is that if the baby isn't directly under it (the pad), it tends to go off. But has definately saved me many trips into my baby's room to check on her! It's worth every penny!

  8. #8
    AussieMum is offline Registered User
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    Dear Sherwes, firstly, I am so glad to hear that your son is ok. It sounds like a scary experience, one I hope you don't have to go through again, but thankful for a positive outcome. I had the hair on the back of my spine raise when I read the start of your post, thinking that we don't have this sensor, and if anything happened to my little girl in the middle of the night, we really wouldn't know. I am from Australia and never bothered to get one as we often went to a friends house who did have one, and every time I put my girl for a nap in their bed, it tended to go off because she had rolled off it. Her husband was a sergeon and even he talked me out of it (he advised it is common for babies to stop breathing for certain periods without concern). But you have just made me realise that it is peace of mind - your story convinces me that it is worth it. Thank you for sharing your story, it is reasuring to know the medical service here is of a high standard (and thankful we can avoid those long emergency waiting queues in the Australian Public system).

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