Childhood Cancer

Your Child in the Hospital

Avoid the emergency room if possible

Try to avoid the emergency room whenever possible. Your child’s pediatrician or a walk-in clinic often will treat your child more quickly and efficiently than an emergency room. In addition, the pediatrician is more familiar with your child and less expensive than the emergency room.

Many parents also try to avoid taking their child to the hospital in an ambulance. In some areas, public ambulance service is free; in other regions, the shortest of ambulance rides can cost hundreds of dollars. However, do not drive if the emergency is life-threatening, if your child may require treatment during transport, or if you are too worried to drive safely. When in doubt, call an ambulance.

When my teenaged daughter tore a ligament in her knee early one Saturday morning, we called our doctor, and he said to go to the emergency room to get a diagnosis and then call the orthopedic surgeon to make an appointment for further treatment and follow-up. We knew we might have to wait a long time, so we each brought a book and practiced being patient.

If you have time, call the pediatrician before you go to the emergency room. She may be able to suggest a treatment option that helps you avoid the emergency room altogether. If you must go, your child’s pediatrician may be able to meet you there. In addition to a comforting presence, your child’s doctor can provide a second opinion, a referral, or pertinent information about your child’s medical history.

It can also help to bring your spouse or another adult who acts as an advocate while you comfort your child. The advocate can call family or employers, fill out paperwork, and ask questions. Having another adult present allows you to stay at your child’s side so that you can attend to her needs.