Top 10 Tips For Taking a Child to the Emergency Department
Being prepared both mentally and physically can make it better
Washington, DC — Summer camps, trips to the beach and playing outside will soon be nearing an end. In a matter of weeks, millions of children throughout the country will be heading back to school. Emergency physicians see this time as a prime opportunity to remind adults what they need to know and do just in case they have to take a child to an emergency department.
"A trip to the emergency department for a sick or injured child doesn't have to be a scary experience," said Dr. Nick Jouriles, President of the American College of Emergency Physicians. "It is the responsibility of a parent or guardian to make sure they are prepared for the visit, that they are doing what they can to calm and relax the child during the visit."
Emergency physicians suggest ten things you need to know if you are ever in the position where you need to take a child to the emergency department.
- Plan ahead.Where is the closest emergency department? How would you get there in an emergency? Have a plan and keep it with you.
- If it's a life and death situation, call 911.If you are driving to the emergency department, it's important as an adult to remain cool, collected and to drive safely.
- It is very helpful to emergency physicians to have an expectation of the visit that the adult can clearly verbalize to the physician. Good communication on all fronts makes the process run more smoothly.
- If possible, bring the child's medications, immunization records, medical history records and contact information for any doctors/pediatrician that may have treated them. Also have a record of recent physician visits and why they were seen.
- Have a list of any allergies the child may have.
- Explain to the child what is happening. Be sensitive to the situation and their age, but be honest. Keep communicating with them. Explain to them what may be confusing and reassure them that the emergency staff is there to help them. Also, let the child know it is okay for the physician to examine them.
- Don't let a child eat or drink anything if you are taking them to the emergency department. If they have a condition that requires evaluation or specific treatment, the child may require certain medications or sedatives. Let the physicians recommend when it's okay for them to eat or drink.
- Bring a sleep over bag in case the child is admitted. This bag should include a change of clothes, pajamas and favorites objects of theirs like a small toy, a favorite blanket, a book, or even a stuffed animal.
- If someone is watching your child, (guardian, babysitter, daycare provider, school nurse, etc.) make certain they have a consent form in that person's name in the event of an emergency. You can download one by going to EmergencyCareForYou.org and clicking on Emergency Manual.
- Stay calm.Remember that kids feed off cues given by adults. If you are inpatient and panicked, most likely the child will be as well. Don't add stress to an already stressful situation.
"Taking a child to an emergency department is something no person ever wants to do," said Dr. Jouriles. "But being prepared both mentally and physically can make a stressful situation much better."
ACEP is a national medical specialty society representing emergency medicine with more than 27,000 members. ACEP is committed to advancing emergency care through continuing education, research and public education. Headquartered in Dallas, Texas, ACEP has 53 chapters representing each state, as well as Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. A Government Services Chapter represents emergency physicians employed by military branches and other government agencies.