Treating Children in the Urgent Care Setting

Anyone who likes going to urgent care or the emergency department, raise your hand!

Anyone? No one?

That’s right. Nobody likes going to urgent care or the emergency department for any reason, anytime. It’s stressful, often unplanned and therefore disorganized, and can be a frustrating experience. I put my doctor head together with a few #smartmommas who have been there and we came up with some ideas that might help make the journey just a little easier.

One of the most helpful things you can do for your child takes place before any kind of emergency ever happens, and that is PREPARE for the “just in case.” Make a detailed list of your child’s medical and psychiatric history including all medications with strength and dose. I can’t tell you how many times a parent will neglect to mention their child’s underlying diagnosis when I meet them for the first time—not because they want to keep something from me—but rather it’s just not in the front of their mind since it may not be (to them) part of the presenting issue at hand. A child with a brain shunt may have stomach pain and vomiting that doesn’t SEEM related to the shunt, but it may very well be, so having a handy and complete summary of your child’s medical “story” is a godsend to most clinicians, and can help your child and save time too. Same thing goes with any behavioral issues. Please share. Just in case.

Additionally, I want to empower all you caregivers out there to remember that you have as much expertise about your child as the medical team. After all, YOU live with your child every day, so don’t be afraid to speak up and advocate about the individual details that are unique to your own child, even if it “goes against” the medical convention. It’s a team effort, friends, and just as I’ll ask you to be patient and flexible with the medical team, the clinicians need to LISTEN to you and incorporate your input as well. This is a big deal. If you feel like you aren’t being heard, then by all means speak up and say just that. Stated in a collaborative and respectful way, any solid medical provider should pause and redirect their focus to make sure you are being heard in a reasonable manner. You are your child’s best advocate!

It nearly always helps to have a physician give a “heads up” phone call to the acute care medical staff to let them know that you are coming in—getting all the physicians’ brains on the same page really can make the medical management go smoother, so please contact your doctor if you can prior to heading on in to urgent care so that this communication can take place. At my shop, PM Pediatrics, we offer specialized urgent care for kids from cradle to college, with xray and lab capabilities. We easily manage most pediatric illnesses and injuries. No appointment needed.

I wish you every good vibe as you navigate what can sometimes be a very tricky road!

That being said, trying to be as best prepared as you can for any potential unexpected trip to acute care will help you focus on what’s really important: comforting your child.

Dr. Christina Johns is a pediatrician and pediatric emergency physician who joins PM Pediatrics as their Senior Medical Advisor. As the face of this cutting-edge organization providing specialized pediatric urgent care, she is responsible for sharing the wealth of expertise of the PM Pediatrics staff with patients and families everywhere.

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