Monday, April 7, 2008

What to Expect When Your Child is Admitted to The Intensive Care Unit

When a child of any age needs admission to the pediatric unit it is stressful. If a child is admitted to a pediatric intensive care it takes stress to another level all together for the parents of that child. The intensive care unit in and of itself is an intimidating environment. The machines,the alarms ringing, lights and monitors flashing and the over all feeling of serious illness, overwhelms most parents.

The admission process can be scary as well because the child is ill, he or she can be crying and upset, or worse yet so sick they aren't responding. This is what to expect if you find yourself in this situation.
First, expect to have to answer the same questions over and over for every new member of the health care team involved. If it is a teaching institution, that can mean as many as 10-12 nurses, doctors, residents, or medical students asking you things like "when did you notice this symptom," or "how long has he had such and such disease." Every team member will ask you the child's allergies, medicines, and medical history. It is not because we are a lazy group and don't read what the others have written. It is because that stress causes parents to forget to mention key points. If several team members ask the same type of questions, important information about your child and the current illness will not be overlooked.

Second, be ready for the child to be hooked up to several monitor cords while in the intensive care unit. The usual monitoring system will show the child's heart rate, blood pressure, respiratory rate, and sometimes temperature. These rates will show up on a monitor screen either in the child's room or on a screen at a central desk outside of the room. It can seem very intimidating to parents to see their child so wired. As a parent, ask questions and make sure you understand the reason behind all of the monitoring devices.

The third thing you should be prepared for is that your child will have an IV or intravenous infusions to receive medicines and fluids. This tubing adds to the confusion of the monitors and wires so the entire scene can be overwhelming. The most important thing to keep in mind is that it is all for the benefit of keeping accurate information on your child and his or her condition.

Intensive Care means just that, intensive watching over your child. Monitors, IV infusions, and numerous repeated questions are the first things to expect when your child is admitted to an intensive care. Be patient with the health care team as they treat your child the best way possible and ask questions when you are unsure of what is happening. Working together with the health care workers will ease you stress and help the team to give your child the best care available.


Simon Rose said...

Having been in hospital with children in the past, although thankfully not in intensive care, I thought this was a great article. Thanks for posting it.

Cynthia Reeg said...

These are great tips for parents when dealing with a very difficult time. Having a child of any age in the hospital is one of the most trying situations--ever. Your explanations should offer parents much help.
I'm looking forward to getting to know you at CWCC.