I knew there was a fifth law! Any time I give a pediatric talk, I mention it. This one applies to anyone who takes care of children, and is particularly important to EMS / prehospital providers and emergency physicians.
On occasion, medics are called to a home to treat a child in extremis, or occasionally in arrest. Similarly, extremely sick children are often brought to the ED by parents or other caregivers.
Here’s the fifth law:
A previously healthy child who is in arrest, or nearly so, is a victim of child abuse until proven otherwise.
Bottom line: It’s so easy to go down the sepsis path with sick kids, especially those who can’t talk yet. But healthy children tend to stay healthy, and don’t easily get sick to the point of physiologic collapse. If you encounter one as a prehospital provider, glance around at the environment, and evaluate the caregivers. In the ED, ask pointed questions about the circumstances and do a full body examination. What you hear and what you see may drastically alter how you evaluate the patient and may save their life.
Other Laws of Trauma: