• general paediatrics;
  • paediatric education

Objective:  To identify which clinical situations are the most difficult to manage for general paediatricians in Victoria, Australia.

Methods:  Self-administered questionnaires were sent to general paediatricians in Victoria. They were asked their opinions regarding what were the most difficult and the most dangerous clinical situations with which they deal.

Results:  The response rate was 64% (63 out of 98 questionnaires sent). The general paediatricians surveyed believed that behavioural, developmental and psychosocial conditions were the most difficult to deal with; conduct disorder was the most nominated clinical category (26% of respondents). The ‘dangerous’ cases nominated were predominately traditional medical cases. The most commonly nominated category was sepsis and shock (21% of respondents). The most difficult and dangerous clinical situations overall for general paediatricians in Victoria appear to be in the areas of sepsis, child protection, paediatric and neonatal resuscitation, depression and suicide, raised intracranial pressure, intravenous fluid management, and communication with parents and adolescents.

Conclusions:  The present survey provides useful information to help with training-programme design and it gives trainee paediatricians an idea of what experienced paediatricians find difficult. Severe behavioural, family and social difficulties, as well as neonatal and childhood resuscitation, severe sepsis, raised intracranial pressure, and intravenous fluid management were the clinical situations most frequently described as difficult.