What Prepared Parents Bring to the Emergency Department

By Tracey Sutherland, cPNP, Trauma Nurse Practitioner

As a parent, an unexpected trip to the Emergency Department can be extremely stressful, unpredictable and even scary, but, being prepared can help keep your focus where it needs to be, on your child. No matter the nature of the emergency, being under acute stress can make simple tasks much more challenging. 

So how can you prepare for the unexpected? Here are some items that you can prepare in advance, and have on-file, either a printed copy kept in your bag or electronically on your phone, to make your visit easier. Many of these items can be found on the “camp” form provided by your primary care provider.

Medication list – List all the medications that your child takes with the reason they are taking it along with correct dosages. This will help alleviate the stress of recall during the visit, while ensuring accurate history.

Immunization list – This will help guide the providers toward what your child may be at risk for, if not fully immunized.

Allergy list – List what the allergy is to as well as the type of reaction that occurs. Besides medication allergies, also include food and environmental allergies as well.

Prior medical history – List all diagnoses, surgeries and hospitalizations, as well as the reasons for each.

Primary Care Provider – List phone numbers for the office as well as emergency after hour calls.

Copy of Health Insurance Cards

Besides the information regarding care of your child, having a few of your child’s favorite and familiar items will help calm them during an uncertain visit. A favorite toy or lovey will help make treatment less frightening. Keeping a calm and even voice and explaining unfamiliar equipment and procedures will help reassure your child and help them feel safe amid the chaos that can sometimes occur in the middle of an emergency.

Having information on hand and a few familiar belongings from home will help make a stressful Emergency Department visit, a little more