5 Tips If Your Child is Hospitalized

A boy lies in a hospital bed

If you’ve ever watched a medical drama on TV, you’ve seen rounding—a team of doctors enters each hospital room to review the patient’s medical history, current status and treatment plan. On TV, the focus is on the doctors. In real life, rounding is all about the patient, and at the center of the care team is the family. Nowhere is this more important than in pediatric inpatient care.

When Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health built its new Seraph-McSparren Pediatric Inpatient Center at Lancaster General Hospital, it was designed to support family-centered rounding. Private patient rooms are large enough for the entire care team and family to meet comfortably and discuss the child’s care. As a pediatric hospitalist (a doctor who cares for children while they are in the hospital) my goal is to empower parents to take an active role in their child’s treatment plan. 

Here are 5 tips to help parents stay involved when their child has been admitted to the hospital for care:

Stay Close in the Morning

Family-centered rounding typically takes place in the morning. This is when the entire team visits each patient room. Parents or other caretakers are an important part of these discussions, not only because doctors want parents to understand what is happening, but because doctors want to hear from parents about their child. Having everyone together during rounding ensures that we are all on the same page.

Ask Questions

Your child’s doctors and nurses want you to be engaged in your child’s care. Parents are sometimes under the false impression that doctors don’t want their opinions challenged or don’t have time for explanations. We would much prefer that you ask a lot of questions than stay quiet. If you hear us mention a medical term or procedure that you don’t fully understand, speak up. When treatment plans are discussed, ask about the risks and benefits, other options, and what you should watch for. Find out when the care team will be back to check up on your child and when tests and procedures will take place. Family-centered rounding is specifically intended for participation and no question is off limits.

Get to Know Your Care Team

Family-centered rounding typically includes the attending physician, family practice residents, a medical student, the nurse on duty, and occasionally, a nursing student. At the Seraph-McSparren Pediatric Inpatient Center, our doctors are all board-certified pediatricians employed by Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), one of the top-ranked pediatric hospitals in the country. Our nurses are all pediatric certified and are responsible for the day-to-day care of your child, according to the doctor’s treatment plan. Your nurse is your primary go-to person for any questions, concerns or requests.

Take Advantage of the Child Life Program

Child Life is a proven program that is offered at no cost to families at our hospital. Child Life Specialists are specially trained to help children and teens cope with the stress of a hospital stay. They can help prepare your child for procedures, explain in child-friendly language what to expect, and relax and distract your child through play. Child Life also supports the entire family by answering questions, interacting with siblings, and coaching parents on ways to comfort their child.

Speak up for Your Child

Doctors and nurses may have the medical expertise to guide your child’s care, but no one is more of an expert on your child than you. We count on parents to participate in decision-making by telling us what you observe, making sure our understanding of your child’s medical history and current situation is correct, and stating your preferences regarding the treatment plan. There may be more than one approach to care, and your input could be the deciding factor.

author name

Harry Bramley, DO

Harry P. Bramley, DO, is Medical Director, CHOP Pediatric Hospitalist Program, Lancaster General Hospital and Medical Director, Pediatric Specialty Care, Lancaster.

Education: Medical School—Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine; Residency—Geisinger Hospital, Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center

Call: 717-544-5331

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