We have had to rush our son to the hospital more than once, and each time was the scariest thing I have had to face. But looking back, it never turned out to be as bad as I imagined.
And knowing what you should do -- and bring along -- makes the whole experience much safer and easier for the parent -- and the child.
Emergency physicians suggest these tips in case you ever need to take a child to the ER.
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Where is the closest emergency department? How would you get there in an emergency? Have a plan and keep it with you.
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If it's a life and death situation, call 911. This may sound like common sense now, but common sense may fly out the window at the moment of an emergency. Your instincts may be to jump in the car, but it may be faster and safer to have help come to you. If you are driving to the emergency department, it's important to remain cool, collected and to drive safely.
BE READY TO ANSWER QUESTIONS
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 him. Also have a record of recent physician visits and why he was seen. Gather all of your records in one spot so you don't to fish around during an emergency. Consider storing some info in your laptop or cell phone.
Have a list of allergies. Don't rely on memory, you want to be able to provide the exact name of the drugs and dosages.
TALK TO THE CHILD
Explain to the child what is happening. Be sensitive to the situation and the child's age, but be honest. Keep communicating with him. Explain what may be confusing and reassure him that the emergency staff is there to help them. Also, let the child know it is OK for the physician to examine him.
NO FOOD, DRINK
Don't let a child eat or drink anything if you are taking him to the emergency department. If he has a condition that requires evaluation or specific treatment, the child may require certain medications or sedatives. Let the physicians recommend when it's OK for him to eat or drink.
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 http://www.emergencycareforyou.org/ and clicking on Emergency Manual.
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.