Whether you're there because you're sick to your stomach or you've been in an accident, going to the emergency room (ER) can be stressful, overwhelming, and sometimes scary.
For children and their families, add a double dose of that.
Treating pediatric emergencies isn't exactly the same as treating adult issues, because children are not mini-adults. Depending on their age, they have their own needs and ways of communicating.
And when you take your child to the ER, you want to feel assured that the medical team treating them knows that.
Planning Ahead for Emergencies
Emergencies are by definition not planned, but you can still be prepared. Before an emergency happens, take time to scope out where you'd want your child to be treated if a medical emergency were to happen. Make sure your insurance is accepted and that there are multiple routes to get there.
Then, post the address for your preferred location somewhere visible in your home. Be sure to share this information with babysitters and schools.
If you have to call an ambulance, you can request that your child is taken to your preferred emergency room, if the time and distance permits.
Here are 6 questions to ask when choosing which emergency room you'd prefer for your child.
1. Are the Rooms Kid-Friendly?
This helps children avoid the noise and stimulation that comes from a busy ER. It also helps your child's care team, because these rooms have special, child-centered equipment, including tools to help find a child's small veins if treatment needs to be given intravenously (within a vein).
2. Do They Have Dedicated Pediatric Providers?
Pediatric providers are trained to treat issues commonly seen in children -- and to take a child-friendly approach when delivering that care.
For example, certain procedures, such as intravenous (IV) placements, are considered minor in adults. For children, they can be a big deal. Pediatric providers also know how to safely sedate children for painful procedures.
The ER at Chester County Hospital (CCH) is staffed by pediatricians from Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). Because CHOP has a long history of providing leading-edge pediatric care, CCH has been able to use this expertise to create guidelines for safe, efficient care for children.
Plus, when your child is being seen by a provider who isn't also treating other adult patients, both providers and families get to spend more one-on-one time together.
3. Are Social Workers Available?
Going to the ER -- especially for a trauma -- can be frightening for both you and your child. Because CCH understands the importance of family-centered care, there are social workers in the ER 24/7 during the week and for approximately 15 to 18 hours on weekends to help your family handle the emotional aspect of going to the ER. These services continue to expand.
Social workers can also assist with obtaining special medical equipment your child may need, such as nebulizers, before you leave the hospital. That way, your child will have their medical equipment as soon as they are discharged.
4. Can You Stay with Your Child?
Most, if not all, patients do better when their loved ones are near them. Being able to stay by your child’s side can provide peace of mind to everyone. That’s why, if it’s safe, parents can usually stay with their children in the ER. This is another part of CCH’s commitment to family-centered care.
5. What If Your Child Needs to Be Transferred to Another Hospital?
Taking your child to the ER is stressful enough in itself. Finding out your child then has to be transferred to another hospital for inpatient care could quickly turn the stress level up 10 notches.
CCH has the only inpatient pediatric unit in Chester County. If your child needs to be hospitalized after coming to the ER, they can often be admitted right upstairs, which makes the transition easier.
Occasionally, pediatric patients who need ICU or specialized treatment may need to be transferred to another facility. Our staff works hard to facilitate that process and get children to the place that will give them the best care.
6. How Seamless Is Communication with Your Child's Other Providers?
Your child's regular primary care provider will need to know what diagnosis and services your child received at the ER. Because ER's do not see patients after discharge, you will need to visit your child's primary care provider for follow-up care.
Ideally, electronic medical records are integrated for easy communication between the ER and your child's primary care provider or specialist. This eliminates miscommunication and makes follow-up care easier after your child has been discharged.
In addition, to optimize communication, you will receive an after visit summary. This will include discharge instructions, and laboratory and radiology results from your visit to share with your child's primary care provider. Our pediatric team also follows up with you directly on any pending test results that may return after you have left the ER.
Just to be safe, ask for a record of the visit to share with your child's primary care provider.
At CCH, when your child comes to the ER, rest assured that they are in good hands -- not just with the treatment they receive, but with the care and comfort provided to your entire family.
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