Posted on January 11, 2020

“It goes without saying that all medical emergencies need to be prioritized,” says Dr. Khalid Mohammed Abdulla Al-Ansari, Chair of Pediatric Emergency Medicine at Sidra Medicine.

“But unlike adult emergencies, children’s emergency care services are often more complex, and need an approach where multiple specialists are involved simultaneously.” And, according to Dr. Al-Ansari, this is why Sidra Medicine partners with Hamad Medical Corporation’s Pediatric Emergency and other stakeholders, to host platforms for knowledge-sharing such as the Qatar-Pediatric Emergency Medicine (Q-PEM) conference, the fourth edition of which is being held from January 10-12.

Topics range from sensory-friendly emergency departments, customer service in the emergency department, and food allergies in 2020, to anti-epileptic drugs, updates on head injuries, the use of nerve blocks for pain management, and trauma care. “When this conference was first initiated a few years ago, one of the organizers’ main priorities was that the event should help the entire spectrum of specialists involved in pediatric emergency medicine – from surgeons and physicians, therapists and technicians, to emergency medical technicians and social workers,” says Dr Al-Ansari, adding that the areas Q-PEM will focus on exemplify what Sidra Medicine, a member of Qatar Foundation (QF), offers the wider community.

“Given the fact that globally, pediatric emergency medicine as a specialized field has been around for barely 20 years, Sidra Medicine has been able to offer Qatar a comprehensive facility in a relatively short time,” explains the physician, who is also Professor of Clinical Pediatrics at Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar, a QF partner university.

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He says that, in Qatar, emergency cases previously had to be categorized and sent to specialized emergency departments that dealt with a specific trauma or illnesses. Children who suffered from allergic reactions, fever, gastroenteritis or pneumonia, for instance, would be treated at a specific emergency department, while those who sustained fractures, wounds that required suturing, and burns were treated in another emergency facility. “Since Sidra Medicine opened, children with any emergency condition can be treated under one roof,” says Dr. Al-Ansari. “This means that sick children who require a mix of surgical and medical intervention and even psychological counselling, have access to such expertise – and do not have to be moved to another facility. “Additionally, such children, their parents or their caregivers have access to allied health care workers such as dieticians, therapists and social services, again, all in the same hospital.”

The benefits of access to such comprehensive pediatric emergency healthcare are being felt by the entire community; Sidra Medicine receives around 40-50 emergency cases by ambulance each day, with another 200-250 young patients arriving by public or private transport. As it is a tertiary care hospital, the majority of pediatric emergency cases are referred by other healthcare facilities in the country, both public and private, demonstrating that the wider medical community is aware that the hospital has the resources to handle them.

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Sidra Medicine, according to Dr. Al-Ansari, has also raised the bar when it comes to pain management in and outside pediatric emergency settings. “Through a procedure called ‘conscious sedation’ – where a child who is in pain is given just enough medication to put him to sleep, allowing us to perform otherwise painful procedures – we can ensure that the child’s visit and stay in the emergency is as pain-free and emotionally stress-free as possible,” he explains. “This is a major step as the hospital has been designated a Level One pediatric trauma care facility, capable of handling the most complex trauma incidents in children. ”

The Q-PEM conference explores numerous pathways that, collectively, will help the medical fraternity across the world deliver comprehensive care in their respective communities. “Pediatric medical emergencies are universal,” says Dr. Al-Ansari. “But it would be an impossible mission if we aimed to have such specialists in every healthcare facility in the world. “However, what we can do is to share our expertise, our experiences, and our results with others, providing centers that do not offer specialized facilities with the knowledge to initiate their own protocol.

“This is why, rather than localizing the conference, we opened it to an international audience. And the response has been tremendous; the last few conferences have each seen up to 600 attendees sign up, evidence that healthcare professionals are keen to learn more about the best way to treat children. “Where the Q-PEM conference – and Sidra Medicine – are concerned, I would refer to the old adage that it takes an entire village to raise a child; it takes just as many to treat a critically-ill one.”

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