What parents should know before heading to the emergency department?

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At some point, there will come a time when you will bring your child to the emergency department. Once the need arises, it is vital that you are prepared and what to expect before bringing a child to the hospital.

Plan beforehand

For serious emergencies, you should go to the nearest emergency department right away. You should know where the nearest one is located and hospitals your doctor is affiliated with.

Get in touch with a doctor first

Emergency department
You can provide the child with over-the-counter fever or pain medications before heading to the emergency department.

If the doctor can be reached in his/her clinic, you should do so. Advice on what to do can be given via the phone if there is a need to go to the emergency department. The doctor can call ahead and inform the ER staff. In serious emergencies, parents must not hesitate to call for emergency assistance.

How to care for your child at home

You can provide the child with over-the-counter fever or pain medications before heading to the emergency department. These medications can make a big difference and often makes the assessment process easier.

Take note of the time and dosage that was given to the child since it is one of the initial questions asked in the emergency department.

Try to remain calm and inform the child what to expect

If you are in a state of panic, the anxiety level of the child rises. For many children, anxiety about what is going to occur is worse than the actual pain. Remember that children of all ages look at their parents for reassurance, thus it is vital to continue with communication. Inform the child that everyone is there to help.

Bring the child’s medical history and medications

It is vital to be ready with the following information since these are asked upon arriving at the emergency department:

  • Health insurance
  • Primary doctor of the child and contact information
  • Known allergies
  • Past medical and surgical history
  • Current medications used (including over-the-counter pain medications, prescription medications, vitamins, homeopathic medications and supplements)
  • Sequence of events leading to the ER visit

Always speak up

As a parent, you are the best advocate for the child and interpreter of his/her needs. If you think that the child is in pain, say so. Do not be afraid to ask repeated questions and stay patient.

Follow-up with the doctor

After the visit to the emergency department, get in touch with the doctor and inform him/her about the diagnosis. Most ERs send a report to the doctor’s clinic if asked to. Check if the doctor has received the report or if he/she has further recommendations. In most instances, the doctor might ask for a follow-up appointment.

Quick Note / Disclaimer

The material posted on this page on what to do during emergencies is for learning and educational purposes only. To learn to recognize situations that require a trip to the emergency department, register for a first aid and CPR course with Victoria First Aid.

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