Last night right after midnight I heard a muffled sobbing coming from my son’s bedroom. I went in to find my 6-year-old curled up in a ball, holding his head, and crying out in pain. He was hurting and I immediately jumped into action.
I took his temperature and saw that it was alarmingly high. I gave him some children’s Tylenol, made a heating pad out of a wool sock and rice, and put a few drops of olive oil into his ear canal. We went downstairs and made a nest of pillows on the couch. I sat with him for a couple of intense hours while his pain got worse and that’s when I decided to pack him up and head to the emergency room.
No one likes having to go an ER, but if you have to go, especially with a child, here are a few tips to remember to help expedite your trip and get your little one back home and comfortable as soon as possible.
Bring all of your paperwork
- You should know your child’s birth date, insurance information, medical history including known allergies, health conditions, and any medications currently being taken.
- Make sure that when you are being registered that you correct bad information such as out of date phone numbers or emergency contact information. Make sure they have your accurate and current information on file.
- Bring your license or ID and your insurance card with you.
- If you know you have a co-pay make sure to bring some cash or a debit card so that your care won’t be delayed.
Stay cool and calm
- Sometimes that can be truly difficult, but it is vital to be as calm as possible so that you can listen to the medical team as they give you information or ask you important questions about what is happening with your child.
- If you get frustrated by the wait time or the care that you believe is not adequate then DO NOT freak out and yell at the medical team or staff. Instead, ask questions about why things are being held up.
- If you think you need help because of inadequate care then ask to speak to the charge nurse. The charge nurse is the lead management role for the nursing staff and will have a protocol in place to deal with your complaints in an appropriate manner.
Be accurate and concise
- Do not give the doctors and nurses a 12-minute breakdown of what you think is happening or how it happened. Instead, be as concise and clear about what you’ve observed and why you are there with your child as possible. For example: “His fever spiked to 103 degrees, he vomited twice, he complained of pain in his ear.”
- If you do not know the answer to a question then just simply say, “I don’t know.”
If you can, have your doctor call ahead
- Sometimes this is impossible, like for middle of the night emergencies. But if you can, call your doctor and explain what is happening and ask him or her to please call the ER for you. By doing this, the ER team can ask your child’s doctor important questions that your doctor may potentially be better equipped to handle.
- When you arrive at the ER let the triage nurse or registrar know who your doctor is and that they called ahead. Sometimes this will bump you up in the waiting line and get your child seen faster depending on the emergency.
Every parent knows that emergencies happen, it comes with the territory. When an emergency does happen being prepared with as much accurate information and steely calm nerves can help you get the care you need as quickly as possible.