No one wants to imagine their children having any medical emergencies, particularly when they are leaving them with a sitter or family member. If you’re going to be away on a trip, whether for business or a vacation, there are some steps to take to protect your child.
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According to Purva Grover, MD, Medical Director of Cleveland Clinic Children’s Pediatric Emergency Departments, you should leave these five key pieces of information with your sitter. It’s important that they be readily available. Ideally, you place them in one folder or binder.
- A legalized, notarized emergency form or letter (more to follow).
- A list of medicines, if your child requires any.
- Medical records or a medical care plan developed by the child’s primary care physician or a specialist, if your child has a chronic medical condition or other special needs.
- Extra medicines or medical supplies, if your child requires any. This is especially important if they are unusual or difficult to find.
- Phone number of your child’s primary care physician. (Send the physician an email notifying him of your trip, too.)
“Having your child’s physician involved is extremely important. They can be your liaison for taking care of the child,” Dr. Grover says. “Having everything in one file is important for the providers who might not know the patient so they can take care of your child. This is especially important if they have chronic conditions.”
What the emergency letter should say
The details will change, depending on your travel plans, but the letter should simply state the following: I, NAME, am going on vacation and will be out of town from DATE to DATE. I am leaving my son/daughter, NAME(S) and DATE OF BIRTH, with NAME and PHONE NUMBER. I can be reached at this phone number, NUMBER.
Dr. Grover adds that it’s very important to leave a contact number, so that you can be reached in case your child ends up in a medical emergency, and the doctor or medical personnel need to speak with you to obtain consent for an emergency procedure.
“It’s important to have that contact phone number where one of the parents or legal custodians can be reached, in case your child gets hurt at a playground, for example, and the sitter does not have the emergency letter physically with them,” she says. “A verbal consent is considered as good as personal consent, especially for the Emergency Department.”
Why you need the emergency letter
When your child is at school – up through college – or at a preschool or day care facility, those institutions will already have the emergency consent forms and contact and medical information in their admissions file. A grandparent, neighbor or sitter, however, will not have that legal consent form or that information, unless you provide it for them.
Emergency care in life-threatening situations
The notarized emergency consent form, contact and medical information will expedite matters in the event of an emergency, but when it comes to children in any life or limb threatening
“If your child is any life- or limb-threatening situation, no matter what, the doctors and hospital staff would take care of your child,” Dr. Grover says.