As a parent, it is your job to monitor everything that happens with your child when they are in the hospital. Make sure there is an adult who is familiar with your child and your child’s needs the entire time your child is in the hospital. When they take your child to things like x-rays, physical therapy, etc. You must be there with them at all times. If well-intentioned staff tell you that there is no reason for you to accompany your child, thank them and go anyway. They don’t know your child like you do.
The example of a mother:
“Three nurses came in to put my seven-year-old son on an IV. When they came in, they started talking fast and completely ignored me as they started to circle him. Before I knew it, everyone was putting on gloves and reaching for him. “Wait a minute” I said picking him up as he was starting to panic “Everyone outside except one nurse” I demanded They all looked at me like I was crazy but they all left.
Andrew and I have an understanding that nobody understands. He knows that I will explain everything to him step by step and I will not let him be held down if he stays still. He knows that he can cry, scream, kick and do whatever he has to do, but he can’t move his arm. If he hadn’t been there, they would have held him back and in doing so they would have caused him to panic and undo everything he and I had worked on for the last 7 years.”
Some tips for when your child is in the hospital:
- Do not ask the staff for help with your own personal needs. Take care of your own food, drink and hygiene needs. Ask the staff where you can do these things and ask what the hospital’s particular policies are, but they’re not there to take care of you, they’re there to take care of your child.
- Protect yourself and your child from additional hospital-acquired infections, especially at times like RSV season, which typically occurs during the winter months and is spread by respiratory particles or contact with contaminated objects, such as bathroom fixtures or even clothing. These kinds of things can even be passed on by doctors and nurses using the same stethoscope and blood pressure cuffs on your child that they use on children who have things like RSV. Keep a hand rub at the bedside – use it yourself and offer it to professionals and staff before they touch your child.
- Since both children and hospitals tend to be sticky, carry a container of disposable antibacterial/antiviral wipes with you and frequently wipe down the surfaces that need it most: TV remotes, phones (including your own cell phone), doorknobs , bed control buttons, toys and dolls.
- Know your surroundings. At first, read the rules and regulations that are posted in each room. Know where the nursing station, emergency exit, drinking fountain, and public or visitor bathroom are (unless you can use a private bathroom). What services are there? Food delivered to parents, game room, toys, in room, DVD or Internet access? What is the visitor policy? Locate the nurse call button, locate the phone and read the instructions, locate the lights and TV controls. Find out how the bed buttons and side rails work. These seem like small, simple steps, but each hospital has different ways of doing things and you need to know what your hospital does and expects.
- Know where you are going to sleep before night falls, and become familiar with that piece of furniture.
- Ask the nurse to tell you about each line and tube that is connected to your child to give oxygen, fluids, medications, blood, and liquid food; to collect for the laboratory or to evacuate stomach contents, urine, drainage, pus, and air pockets. Each line must be clearly identified so that fluids and medications do not go into the wrong tube.
- Be vigilant when any substance is injected into a line. If you think someone is about to make a mistake, speak up right away, but try to be attentive, not offensive. “Sorry to interrupt, but I thought that line was an arterial line, and they said nothing should be put in.” Ask questions and don’t be afraid to speak up.
- If there is going to be a change in treatment or procedure, make sure you understand what it is and why. If the person doing the procedure doesn’t know you or doesn’t make sense to you, ASK.
“While my 7-year-old son was sick and in the hospital the nurse was having trouble taking his temperature accurately. She went in once and took him under his arm and got something close to normal. ‘That’s not right,’ I said. “It’s at least 102” I said feeling the lower part of her stomach where she has the fever. She looked at me as if she had lost her mind again, but took it again, this time under her tongue. It showed 101. Then left. Came back a few minutes later. “Sorry.” She said. “The resident ordered her rectal temperature taken.” She said, embarrassed. “No, you won’t.” , IN A 7-YEAR-OLD! NO! So I asked what was the reason for this since at 7 it didn’t matter if it was 101 or 102.
“What difference does it make?” She said that she didn’t know, but that the doctor had ordered it. I told him to call the doctor to come and explain to me why they would take a 7-year-old’s rectal temperature. She looked horrified.
She returned a few minutes later looking even more shocked, saying, “The resident thought she was 7 months old.” Scary, right?
- Your child may be on monitors that keep up with the signals your child’s body is giving off. Most commonly, monitors measure heart and breathing rates, blood pressure (how hard the heart needs to work), and the oxygen supply in the blood. Make sure you know what the monitors are and what the normal numbers should be for your child.
- Monitors can’t monitor everything, like how your child feels, talks, behaves, or looks just before vomiting. They also can’t announce that even though the numbers are within the “normal” range, like for an hour the oxygen saturation drops from 100 to 93, something is clearly wrong, but the alarms aren’t going off. To spot the trend, someone has to be watching the child. That is what nurses used to do in the past: get to know their little patients and be alert to such changes. now it’s up to YOUR.
- If you think your child’s condition is getting worse, call a nurse.
- Nurses appreciate gifts, but even better, give them real help. A positive attitude that assumes they know what they are doing and have your child’s best interests in mind. A note of praise to the nurse, with a copy to the supervisor and the head of the hospital, goes much further than the chocolates. If you really want to bring a gift, most nursing staff appreciate fresh fruit even more than processed candy.