Childhood Cancer

Your Child in the Hospital

Work with the staff

It’s a good idea to establish rapport with emergency room staff right away. That means staying calm, providing accurate information, and gently but regularly making them aware of your presence. Prior to giving permission for medications, make sure you tell the doctor or nurse about any prescription or over-the-counter drugs that your child takes, for example, an asthma inhaler or an antihistamine.

Politely ask the doctors what they are doing and why. Try to understand the treatment plan for your child’s illness or injury. If you are uneasy about the proposed treatment, ask for another opinion. In large teaching hospitals, the first doctor you see usually is a resident. Ask to see a chief resident or attending physician if you feel another opinion is necessary (the different types of doctors in teaching hospitals are explained in Chapter 5, The Staff).

One night, we took our 18-month-old daughter, who has diabetes, to the emergency room because of a sudden, severe ear infection. I had already checked her blood sugar and it was fine. But when they heard “diabetes,” they immediately began to draw blood and put a urine bag on her. I said, “Stop for a moment and listen to me.” After I explained, they just dealt with the infection.

If your child will be going home with you, ask for all instructions in writing—you may not remember later. You might also ask about:

• Possible complications related to medication

• Side effects, such as swelling or fevers, that might occur later and when you should call about such symptoms

• Special care for stitches, bandages, or casts

• Whether you should call your pediatrician or a specialist to arrange for follow-up care

Do not hesitate to call the pediatrician if something appears wrong with your child after you go home.