Queensland Children’s Hospital emergency doctor Fiona Thomson. Picture: Peter Wallis
Queensland Children’s Hospital emergency doctor Fiona Thomson. Picture: Peter Wallis

How Christmas can be fatal for children

THEY'RE the Christmas holiday tragedies that stay with emergency department doctors long after they occur.

For Queensland Children's Hospital emergency physician Fiona Thomson, a Christmas Day shift that involved the death of a young motorbike rider after a crash on his way home to see family still remains with her many years later.

"He rode into a tree and was killed," she said.

"Those cases do stay with you.

"Things happen all year round but there's something about Christmas when tragedy happens.

"People are generally gathering together and looking forward to family time.
"Then, for something like that to happen, it's especially poignant."

Dr Thomson was a trainee emergency physician at the time, seeing both adult and child patients.

The Queensland Children's Hospital emergency department clinical director graduated as a doctor in 1991 and has worked as a consultant emergency specialist since 2001.

She's experienced first-hand the stories behind the public health pleadings for people to avoid driving tired, keep within the speed limit and don't drink and drive.

 

Queensland Children’s Hospital emergency doctor Fiona Thomson. Picture: Peter Wallis
Queensland Children’s Hospital emergency doctor Fiona Thomson. Picture: Peter Wallis

 

A toddler's death from drowning on one of her Boxing Day shifts prompts her to remind parents to ensure a designated adult supervises young children swimming.

"It happened in a backyard pool at a family barbecue," Dr Thomson recalled.

"It was an inground pool with a fence.

"Not wanting to take away from the joys of Christmas, but the message I would have is, sure there's a fence, but you also need to be aware of where the kids are and supervise them appropriately."

Dr Thomson also urged parents to ensure young children stayed away from button batteries, which could be deadly if swallowed.

"Some toys will potentially have button batteries inside," she said.

"Parents should ideally avoid those sorts of toys but if they have them, make sure the compartment is really secure and that you don't have any button batteries lying around where young children could get to them.

"If there's a remote possibility that your toddler or child has swallowed a button battery, come to a hospital emergency department immediately."