Knowing what to expect in the E.R. can help you keep calm through an understandably trying experience. Some basics:
- Plan ahead Ask your pediatrician which hospitals she can admit patients to and which one she recommends for pediatric emergencies. If you’re covered by managed care, ask which hospitals are affiliated with your plan.
- Review your child’s medical record You’ll be asked about significant illnesses or operations, allergies and immunizations.
- Anticipate “controlled chaos,” notes Larry Bedard, M.D., president of the American College of Emergency Physician 3. Emergency departments are busy, often noisy places.
- Communicate with the nurses The triage nurse assesses whether your child needs immediate attention or can safely wait. Talk to her about special physician requests. For example, if your child needs stitches on the face, ask her to summon the plastic surgeon on call, recommends Steven Wallach, M.D., a New York City plastic surgeon.
- Be realistic about squeamishness You’ll be allowed to remain with your child through most procedures, but if you faint at the sight of blood, it may be better to stay in the waiting area.
- Understand the E.R.’s methods Don’t be alarmed by the use of restraints, for instance. Sheets, towels and boards are routinely used to minimize thrashing while a child is being examined or stitched. It may look shocking, but it’s for your child’s protection.