3 Tips For Taking A Child To The Emergency Room
Going to the emergency room is scary for anyone, but it's especially frightening for children. They may not understand what's going on. They're also likely in pain or incredibly ill, which can make them extremely irritable and upset. Although you can't cure their medical issue, you can make the trip easier on everyone. A couple minutes of planning can go a long way towards calming their nerves and speeding the process.
Follow these three tips the next time you have to take a child to the emergency room:
1. Bring something to entertain them. Depending on the severity of the emergency, it's possible that you may have to wait for a long time in the waiting area. Even after you're taken back to the treatment area, you may have to wait some more. Patients often believe that emergency rooms are first-come, first-serve. That's not the case.
The most serious injuries are treated first while less serious conditions have to wait. A ruptured spleen would likely be seen right away, while a simple fever and cough or a broken toe may get pushed to the back of the list.
If you think you may have a long wait ahead of you, bring items that can keep the child's attention. A favorite book or board game could help. Also, if you have a phone, tablet, or even laptop, you may be able to watch videos and play games online over the hospital's WiFi.
Have as much information as possible available. You can speed the process by collecting all of the information that the doctor or nurse will need. While you're waiting, write down any and all medications that the child has taken. Also, write down any other illnesses, injuries, or conditions that the child has had. If you can, call your pediatrician and ask them to fax the child's immunization records over to the emergency room. That will save your nurses considerable time and help them treat your child faster.
Be calm and be honest. Your child will take his or her cues from you. If you're stressed, upset, or overly-emotional, they will likely act the same way. You can prevent a lot of unnecessary anxiety by staying calm. Be honest with them about what's going on.
Try to prepare them for any painful treatments by explaining that it may hurt for a minute but it will help them feel better in the long run. Your child will be stressed because they don't know what's going on. Don't keep them in the dark. Try to inform them as much as possible while also being sensitive to their fears and concerns.
If you believe your child's condition is life-threatening or could become life-threatening on the way to the hospital, call 911 for an ambulance rather than taking them to the emergency room yourself. It's always better to err on the side of caution when you're dealing with a medical emergency.