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New Study: Parents Benefit From Being With Kids In The ER. Some Doctors Feel Uneasy.


Family members usually have to wait outside when doctors treat someone for a serious injury. But that’s changing with trauma care for children. A new study finds it can be beneficial for the family to be inside the emergency room.  

Lori Vinson is senior director of trauma services at Children’s Health.

Interview Highlights:

How parents benefit: “It decreases their anxiety because they know what was happening with their child because they were in the room. Even in those critical situations, they felt like the health care team was doing everything possible for their child. Caregiver, a parent, cares for their child every day. So now they’ve had to release that to a team of strangers, usually, and they still feel as if they’re caring for their child in a way by being present and being supportive in the room.”

Why some medical professionals are slow to embrace the idea: “There is an uneasiness that comes along with it for the health care team. I think sometimes they wonder ‘Is it going to hinder care? Is it going to impact our ability to do everything we need to do for the child?’ Research has shown that’s not a problem, but sometimes they’re not aware of that.”

How Children’s Health trains its staff for family presence: “There’s a family support person – a social worker, it could be a chaplain, a nurse – that stays with that family member and their entire focus in that time is that family member if it’s in a critical situation, telling him about the [medical] team and what each person’s role is. Also, letting them know that if for some reason, there was any type of disturbance or any ability to not have the care we need to provide, that family would obviously be removed from that environment so we can make sure the child has what they need.”

The family presence process: “We quickly assess the child and someone lets the physician know “I have Mom with me. Is it OK if I bring her into the room?' 'Yes.' They enter the room, and frequently it’s social work, stays with them the whole time and starts talking and explaining to them what the health care team is doing. So that allows the team to still focus on taking care of the child because we have a content expert whose providing that support and answering those questions. And when the health care team has the opportunity, when it’s appropriate within the care, to then start answering those questions as well.”

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Sam Baker is KERA's senior editor and local host for Morning Edition. The native of Beaumont, Texas, also edits and produces radio commentaries and Vital Signs, a series that's part of the station's Breakthroughs initiative. He also was the longtime host of KERA 13’s Emmy Award-winning public affairs program On the Record. He also won an Emmy in 2008 for KERA’s Sharing the Power: A Voter’s Voice Special, and has earned honors from the Associated Press and the Public Radio News Directors Inc.