Get sick? What Your Doctor Needs to Know.
**In case of an emergency, dial 911 immediately.
Well, well, well. Here we are again. Hello cold and flu season, it’s not nice to see ya! As an ER nurse and mother - I dread this time of year. That is unless I’m not working, my kids aren’t sharing the germs going around their school and I have plenty of free time to ski fresh powder! So, like I said, I can’t stand this time of year.
Last year, our family was hit hard. Four rounds of various fevers, three cases of pink eye (from snot in the eyes!), two potential flu’s (they weren’t confirmed so I don’t want to spread rumors!), and so many sore throats and sniffles that I couldn’t keep count! Insert sarcastic “thumbs up” here.
We’ve said it before, parents can be our greatest resource when treating children! Unfortunately, in many ER’s and doctor’s offices around the world, many parents bring their children in to be examined but leave out some important details (because it’s a lot to remember, or they forgot, or they don’t know it’s stuff that we want to know). One of the most helpful things a parent can provide for their doctor, pediatrician, or other provider is a timeline of symptoms, treatments and how your child responded. This helps create a clear picture of what you’ve done so far, and how we need to treat your kiddo now.
Mnemonics are one of the ways that medical and nursing students study in school. They make learning a lot of information easier to process and remember, so we created this mnemonic to help you paint a clinical picture of how your child’s illness presented (doctor speak for how it shows up).
This one is pretty self explanitory. What symptoms has your child elicited? Do they have a fever, have they been throwing up, are they able to eat or drink anything? Keep track of all of the symptoms that you have noticed. And note the time each started... For example: Fever started three days ago, vomiting started in the middle of the night (oh so often the way!).
This seems easy too! Temperature is a really important piece of the clinical picture. Does your child have a temperature? If so, what is it? How did you take the temperature? Was it temporal, oral, rectal, under the armpit? This is important to know because it effects the temperature reading itself. When did the temperature start? Digital thermometers are relatively inexpensive, so make sure you keep one on hand. We always travel with one too!
What actions have you taken since the symptoms have occured? Have you given the child any medications? If so, what did you give and how much? What time? Did you give your child a luke warm bath? These details will help your child's care team create an appropriate treatment plan.
After you gave your child medication, what was the result? Did the fever go down? Did it stay the same? How did they respond? Did your child start running around and playing? Or was he or she still lethargic? These details create a clinical picture that will help the provider know what is working and what is not.
It's time to talk about time. If you bring your child into the ER at 7pm, it probably goes without saying that knowing that you gave your child a medication at 4pm is really important. Knowing when your little one had their last dose of medication will help your child's care team know what treatments or medications need (or are safe) to happen next. When in doubt, jot time down! Timelines are incredibly helpful for providers.
So there you have it! An “easyish” way to remember what the pediatrician or your own doctor needs to know to help you or your little one. Click here for the printable version available in our free resource library.
Good luck this cold and flu season. And may the hand sanitizer be with you!