6 Ways to Improve Trauma Care for Children


At Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, parents are allowed to be present in the trauma bay during resuscitation. “There are criteria in place to ensure it’s not a free-for-all, but this policy helps us make sure the parent is an active participant, not just a bystander,” Dr. Gaines said.

“We also put significant emphasis on social service aspects,” she said. “Once an injured child is discharged, you need to make sure the family has the resources to continue to take care of their child.”

5. “Teen-test” your prevention messages
Adult trauma professionals who work regularly with teenagers should have a good understanding of how to talk to this group about injury prevention, right? In 2009, Dr. Gaines and a colleague decided to test that assumption.

They asked separate adult and teenager focus groups to evaluate three different posters promoting seatbelt use. Which message was most likely to hit home with teens? “The primary choice of the adults was never selected by the teens and the primary choice of the adolescents was never the choice of the adults,” according to the paper published in the Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery.

“You have to make sure the message you are putting out is one your target audience will understand and is receptive to,” Dr. Gaines said. “This is particularly important with teenagers. They are kind of particular about the kinds of messages they’re open to. Teens want it to be genuine and real, so it works better when you involve them in the development of the message.”

6. Help put childhood trauma in perspective

“Most people do not recognize that injury is the leading cause of death in children,” Dr. Gaines said. Re-framing the public dialogue can help improve funding for pediatric trauma research and readiness.

“Children dying of cancer is scary,” Dr. Gaines said. “But for the average family, it is much more likely that their child will be impacted by trauma than by cancer, heart disease or any other serious medical problem.”

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