9 Pediatric Emergency Essentials
What to do before disaster strikes
1. Know where you'll go and the best way to get there. If you're lucky enough to have a choice of local ERs, ask your doctor which one is best prepared to treat children, says Jerrold Eichner, M.D., chairman of the AAP committee on hospital care. If your child has a chronic condition or special needs, it also can't hurt to call the ER director, says Joan Naidorf, D.O., an emergency physician in Alexandria, VA. "You can say, 'My child has X problem. Do you have all the equipment you need to treat him?'" They'll be honest about whether their hospital is the best place for your child -- no one wants to lure a case they can't take care of. You can also check hospital ratings and complaints at JointCommission.org.
2. Make a mini-medical file. Any parent can blank on her child's health history at 4 a.m. (and other caregivers simply may not know all the details). Download the forms at MyPHR.com to record your child's current height, weight, medications, health conditions, previous injuries or illnesses, and allergies, and the ER staff will have the basics ready to go. Make copies to keep in the car, your purse, and, if your child is young, the diaper bag. It's a good idea to attach your child's vaccination record as well (ask your doctor for a copy).
3. Give consent. Caregivers need a consent form from you to authorize medical treatment for your child. You can find ones to download at Lawdepot.com.
4. Take a CPR class. Lots of new parents take them before giving birth, but you can keep your skills sharp with a refresher course. Find one near you at Redcross.org.