When my daughter was an infant, she was sick almost twice a month. After being pushed around through many different hospital visits (in a different hospital every time!), we finally learned a thing or two about hospital visits.
1.) HOSPITAL POLICY — Take hospital policy with a grain of salt. If it is really there (many times it is not), ask to see it (ask politely :).
We were told that hospital policy dictated that our daughter was not allowed to do a spinal tap with a parent in the room. We were told they got the fluid on the first try, but our daughter had three holes in her back! Three! They lied to us, and we have refused to allow medical personal have our daughter without supervision (she had a few taps after that one and many, many different tests). Four different hospitals have tried to kick us out of the room, and four finally agreed to allow my husband to stay. YOU are the parent and YOU are responsible for your child, do not leave him or her unsupervised. If I ever give birth in a hospital again, the same principle will apply.
2.) ASK QUESTIONS — Obviously ask for medical lingo to be translated for laymen, but that is not where you are to stop. The most important questions you can ask are: A. What are the risks of this test/procedure? B. What is the success rate of this test/procedure? C. Is there a medical alternative, or a natural alternative? THE most important question may be D. Can it wait? – Do not allow medical staff to pressure you into anything. Try to wait on a decision and do your own research. Yes, the staff may hate you for it, but their desire for efficiency is not always good!
3.) YOU ARE NOT AN IDIOT — You already knew that, right? Don’t let triage fool with your emotions! My daughter’s temperature is always 97.4. She is prone to high fevers, so I take it often. If she gets to 99 its a fever for her. If I take her temperature rectally, orally or otherwise it is almost the same and the doctors would take a degree away if I took it rectally (which was the most reliable reading). We try to treat infections as early as possible, and that has led to doctors treating us, as parents, like we are over-reacting, and my daughter like an average person. Averages are great, they help us understand many things, but do not allow yourself, or child, be treated like you are average.
4.) DO NOT DISTURB — After being in a hospital for several days and CONSISTENT vital readings, we found it most pertinent that my daughter slept undisturbed. This may upset the nurse on duty, but have them refer the person in charge to you. I can tell you how many wet diapers she had in the morning.
5.) RELAX — If you brought your child, they need to know that you are in charge. Keep your cool, it gives them a feeling of security. Your child knows you, your child trusts you; if you seem fearful and tense your child will know. The staff will also know and you may lose your credibility and the hospital staff will make your decisions for you and may not keep you completely informed.
Get comfortable! You are either going to be there for a long time, or you are not. It doesn’t matter. Whether it is just you, you and a spouse, or you and a child be the only people in the room. Play games, take silly pictures, read a book. Try not to worry about what is going on and enjoy where you are the best you can. Eat a snack, get some water. Just take it easy!
ER visits are not easy! Do not get pushed around, the most important thing you can do is stay calm and think clearly.