The 411 on 911 – How to Navigate the Emergency Department with Your Child
Today we presented a skit on advocating for your child in the emergency department to parents from the Little Sisters organization of East Harlem. I am extremely grateful to Little Sisters of East Harlem, R Baby and Baby Buggy for giving me opportunity to do this.
In an emergency situation, we as parents might be too overwhelmed or scared to remember that we are our children’s best advocates. So if you find yourself in the emergency room for children what can you and should you ask for?
1. If English is not your first language, you should always ask for an interpreter. Every hospital has access to either an in house or phone interpreter.
2. Pain medication. Sometimes ED staff forget to address basic issues like pain control. Always make sure that every effort has been made to provide adequate pain control for your child.
3. Child life services. Many children’s hospitals offer child life. A child life specialist is a person who helps provide distraction to children undergoing painful or stressful procedures. Even if child life is not available, some emergency departments provide video games or other toys.
4. A clear explanation of why certain studies are being done, medications that are being given and diagnoses.
5. Clear discharge planning. Make sure you understand which medications should be given, when they are given and how they are given. Make sure your provider explains to you when you need to follow up or why you might need to return with your child to the emergency department. If you are not comfortable with the discharge plan, discuss this with your provider.
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