A paradigm shift in pediatric care, thanks to research around trauma, traumatic stress reactions, toxic stress and ACEs, is slowly calling on doctors and nurses to provide trauma informed care to all their patients and families. But what is trauma informed care and how is it put into practice?  

Trauma informed pediatric care means incorporating an understanding of the impact of traumatic stress on ill or injured children and families as part of treating the medical aspects of trauma. So just how do you provide trauma informed care?

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 steps have you taken to incorporate trauma informed care into your practice?