As a healthcare provider, you care for dozens of patients and families each and every day. Depending on your specialty, you may only see them once. Or you may see them several times a week or a month, over the course of several years, depending on the diagnosis. No matter how fleeting the time you spend with patients maybe, one mom wants you to remember that with just a few short sentences, you could turn their world upside down. She shares her experiences and thoughts on ways to make this interaction less traumatizing for the family. She highlights tips such as making sure the family understands they are not alone and being accessible for additional questions as ways to minimize the stress of an adverse medical event. Other suggestions to incorporate trauma-informed care into your practice include:
1. Minimize traumatic aspects of medical care: Pay attention to the child’s and family’s experience of medical care, and do what you can to reduce frightening or painful aspects of necessary care and procedures.
2. Provide all pediatric patients with basic support and information: Ask children (and parents) about their fears and worries, optimize pain management, and work with parents to help them provide effective support for their child. The D-E-F protocol offers specific guidance and suggestions.
3. Screen to identify those who may need more help: Provide anticipatory guidance about stress reactions and ways of coping. Assess for more severe distress or risk factors, and make appropriate referrals for additional services if warranted.
4. Maximize continuity of care: Help ensure that all those caring for a child are aware of any traumatic stress reactions as well as effective coping resources.
5. Remain aware of one’s own stress: Pay attention to the challenges of caring for ill and injured children, and promote good self-care.
What tips do you have for reducing the stress of an illness or injury?