Trauma informed care is often described as a lens or framework to deliver medical care. Why? Because practicing trauma informed doesn't mean mindlessly checking off boxes or screening patients for emotional distress only to fulfill a requirement. Trauma informed care shapes the interactions between you, your patients, and their families.

Trauma informed care with family


When you deliver care through a trauma informed lens, you understand (and adjust your interactions accordingly) that not only is medical care traumatizing in and of itself, but that your patients come with their own life circumstances which effect how they interact with you and other medical staff. You understand that you should screen, either formally or informally, all of your patients for traumatic stress since not all will share the same symptoms and, when left undiagnosed, will have a negative impact on recovery and overall health outcomes.


Conceptualizing trauma informed care poses several challenges. Depending on your specialty, trauma informed care at the bedside may differ from your colleagues. Depending on your patient's developmental age, trauma informed care will look different.  If you happen to work in a specialty where you see patients in office setting and/or see patients on a regular basis, trauma informed care may look like similar to Dr. Paul Rosen's:


"When I walk into the examination room, I try to follow the best practices for the intro: big smile and friendly greeting; state my name, specialty, and years of experience; shake hands, greet everyone in the room (especially the child and siblings), and then sit down and make eye contact.


I tell the family what we will do during the visit. Since the worst fear at the doctor’s office for many children is a needle stick, I reassure the child that we have no needles in the room. (If blood work is needed, we apply numbing cream before the child goes to the lab.)


There are parts of the visit where I am looking face-to-face at the parent and at the child. At other moments, I am typing my notes, orders, and billing into the computer.  When I am discussing diagnosis, treatment plan, and follow-up, I am looking at the family, not the computer."


Even though your specialty may dictate that trauma informed care look different than Dr. Rosen's, he gives all healthcare providers a reminder:


"A routine day at the office for me could be the worst day of a parent’s life.... As a result, I am very conscious not to add more stress to the office visit".  


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