Background: Young children are susceptible to dehydration associated with gastroenteritis and may require hospitalisation. Two treatment options to rehydrate children are intravenous therapy and oral rehydration therapy, including naso-gastric rehydration. Methods: The aim of this study was to determine if an outer suburban Melbourne Emergency Department followed the current guidelines (from the Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne) for best practice in treating mild to moderate dehydration in children more than three months and up to three years old. Medical histories for September 2006 were accessed and included children suffering from mild to moderate uncomplicated dehydration due to gastroenteritis, either from vomiting or diarrhoea, or both, and requiring admission to the Short Stay Unit for rehydration. Results: Seventeen children (seven female and ten male) were admitted to the Emergency Department Short Stay Unit with moderate dehydration due to gastroenteritis. The average length of stay ranged from one to four days. Nine children received naso-gastric rehydration, five had intravenous therapy, and three received oral rehydration. Conclusions: There were inconsistencies in the treatment of children with mild to moderate dehydration. Emergency Department clinicians require further education regarding best practice guidelines in treating mild to moderate gastroenteritis, in particular, the benefits of naso-gastric and oral rehydration. © 2007 College of Emergency Nursing Australasia Ltd.
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