A trip to the emergency department for a sick or injured child doesn’t have to be a scary experience. And it is the responsibility of a parent or guardian to prepare for the visit and to remain calm, which will also help the child remain calm.
Emergency physicians recommend 10 things you need to know when you take a child to the emergency department.
- Plan ahead. Where is the closest emergency department? How would you get there in an emergency?
- If it’s a life–or-death situation, call 911. If it is safe to drive, remain calm, which will help your child remain calm.
- Communicate clearly to the emergency staff. Good communication on all fronts makes the process run more smoothly.
- Bring a list of the child’s allergies and medications .
- Bring the child’s immunization records and contact information for any physicians who may have treated them.
- Provide consent-to-treat forms for those who take care of your child, (e.g., guardian, babysitter, daycare provider, school nurse.)
- 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 the emergency staff is there to help them. Also, let the child know it is OK 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 to the hospital. This bag should include a change of clothes, pajamas and favorites objects of theirs like a small toy, a favorite blanket, a book or a stuffed animal.
- Stay calm. Remember that kids feed off cues given by adults. If you are impatient and panicked, most likely the child will be as well. Don’t add stress to an already stressful situation.