Whether your child has fallen at the playground at school, choked on food in a restaurant, or had an adverse reaction to medication at home, a medical emergency can occur anywhere at any time. You, as a parent, have dedicated your life to your child’s safety since the day he or she was born, yet you can’t prevent every incident from happening. As a parent of a child with special needs, you know that your child’s health may be particularly vulnerable due to a complex medical condition. While you may know all the proper steps in attending to your child’s needs, others may need a detailed, step-by-step explanation and during a medical emergency those steps are particularly crucial.
Unfortunately, during a medical emergency, errors may occur. According to Michael A. Abelson, a Washington DC Medical Malpractice Lawyer, children are not immune from falling victim to a life threatening and costly medical error during a medical emergency. The best way to prevent complications during a medical emergency is to provide caregivers, teachers, and schools with detailed information about your child’s special needs.
On any given day your child may interact with numerous people, such as personal care attendants, teachers, and friends (and their parents), who should be educated on your child’s special needs. Since you may not always have the opportunity to be with your child, it’s crucial that these day-to-day individuals know what to do in the event of a medical emergency. Here are ways to inform and prepare others:
- Schools: Your child should have an individualized health plan (IHP) prepared by the school nurse with up-to-date information and feedback from you and your child’s doctor. The IHP contains vital information from medications to dietary needs to any accommodations. IHPs are an important tool throughout all aspects of school life and particularly during a medical emergency that may occur in the school or during a school event (ie. field trip). Additionally, any equipment or medication needed in the event of an emergency must be easily accessible and in working order.
- PCAs, Child care, and Friends: Whether you have a caregiver who visits your home or your child has a sleepover at a friend’s house, it’s important that all adults understand your child’s needs and what to do in a medical emergency. Create a written emergency information form regarding your child’s needs; this form should be easy to understand and you may want to consider making copies for several people your child sees on a regular basis. On the form, consider information such as:
- Parental contact information
- Doctor contact information
- Medical History (any allergies, immunizations, diagnoses, surgeries, etc.)
Another vital tool to have in the event of a medical emergency is creating an Emergency Information Form (EIF). This form can help ensure that your child’s complicated medical history is accurately and concisely summarized when a parent or regular doctor is not present. Your child may be less likely to suffer from a medical error if he or she has an EIF.
Preparation for You
As a parent with special needs, you probably think that you will always be there to answer any questions about your child’s health. However, what if a medical emergency affects you and your ability to communicate? For the safety of you and your child, consider having important information (such as emergency contact numbers) in your cellphone or wallet.
Additionally, you may want to consider medical alert jewelry for your child. While no one likes to consider the “what ifs”, it’s always wise to be as prepared as possible to avoid further damage to your child’s health when a medical emergency occurs.