Medical trauma, like any other trauma, impacts children and families both objectively and subjectively. Many medical events (and hospitals in general) are frightening, painful, or uncontrollable, and it's not surprising that they can trigger traumatic stress reactions. Research suggests that it's not the objective severity of the illness or injury that influences subsequent reactions rather, it's how the child or family experiences the event that determines how they will cope with it.  All healthcare providers treating children, regardless of their discipline, should be "trauma informed". This means that they should incorporate an understanding of traumatic stress and related responses into their routine encounters with children and their families. Doctors and nurses can provide trauma informed care and reduced the trauma of hospitalization in many ways, such as following the D-E-F Protocol or the suggestions outlined in a recent JAMA article:  

  • Promote Personalization
  • Ensure That Patients Receive Enough Rest and Nourishment
  • Reduce Stress, Disruptions, and Surprises
  • Eliminate Unnecessary Tests and Procedures
  • Decrease Random Medication Alterations
  • Encourage Activity
  • Provide a Post Discharge Safety Net

How do you help reduce the trauma of hospitalization and help your patients cope?