Mother knows best. An old adage repeated countless times. Maybe you nod your head in agreement. Or sigh because despite your belief to the contrary, mother really did know best. By and large, this saying has stood the test of time and if you work in pediatrics, you interact with thousands of mothers each year. Your interaction with them (or any caregiver) is unavoidable for those in pediatric medicine.
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However, how you interact with a child's caregiver is totally up to you. Perhaps, like Dr. Al-Agba, you're tired, worn-out, and not up to being compassionate:  


“Something is not right about my daughter; I would like you to do a blood count.”

I was not compassionate.  Frankly, I was so tired; I did not really care about her reasons for wanting the test."


 As Dr. Al-Agba shares, approaching your patient interactions this way could lead to poor patient satisfaction at the least, or misdiagnosis at the worst:


An hour later, the lab called up to the ER with results.

“Leukemia,” the lab technician said.  My jaw and my heart hit the floor.

“What did you say?” I asked.

“Leukemia,” she repeated.

“How is that possible? The result of the smear was normal yesterday.”

She said, “We missed it, we went back and reviewed the previous smear, and that was abnormal too.” 


The experience Dr. Al-Agba recounts underscores why fully embracing trauma informed care and the DEF Protocol as a framework is so important.  The DEF Protocol outlines easy steps to assess a patient and family's level of distress, emotional support and family needs all while understanding the inherent traumatic nature of illness, injury, and/or medical procedures, cultivating a central role for family involvement and promoting a family strengths.


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