That first ER visit: notes for next time

With an adventurous toddler in the house, a visit to the ER is more of a “when” than an “if”. It was bound to happen at some point.

The backstory

As is often the case, the incident happened with neither parents present, both of them being at work.

Ms. Headgash was spending  the day at her friend’s house. They were at the neighborhood playground when slipped and smacked the back of her head on a sharp edge of one of installations.

I got a call from the friend’s mom while at work. She had already cleaned and treated the wound.

Me: “Is it bleeding a lot?”

Her: “Not not really.”

Me: “Is she crying a lot? Is she very upset?”

Her: “Not anymore; she’s watching TV now.”

Me : “Is she alert? Does she seem concussed?”

Her: “She seems fine and responsive.”

Having visited the doctor numerous times as a child to get my head stitched up, I knew that cuts to the scalp were not too serious and needed to be relatively large to require any stitches.  The larger risk may be of a concussion, but that did not seem to be the case based on my conversation.

Me: “How big is the gash?”

Her: “Not that big. Like a tic-tac.”

Me: “Eehh… why don’t you send me a picture?’ 

Thanks to modern technology, I quickly received photographic evidence of the injury (shown above). The cut was actually bigger than I had expected.

Me: “Would you take your son to the hospital based on this?”

Her: “Perhaps. Only because he’s a boy and a scar might show on short hair.

Not wanting to deprave my daughter of wearing her hair short, I decided to meet them at the local hospital.

Luckily, things were slow at the hospital and we were seen relatively quickly.

After some examination, the Doctor determined that she would simply close the wound using steri-strips rather than with any sutures. She did have to trim some hair around the wound so that the strips could properly stick to something. I was actually familiar with steri-strips, having myself used them to patch up various head wounds of fellow rugby players during games. I concurred with her choice.

My daughter somewhat suspicious about being at the Doctor’s – mainly because she has vaccination memories – but some M&Ms did the trick  to distract her while the doctor did what she had to do. However, she was also very excited to hear that she could not wash her hair for a whole week!

The Doctor also prescribed some basic antibiotics to fight off any potential infection.

Overall, the hospital visit went quite smoothly actually.

The biggest drama and tears occurred when the M&Ms were spilled and had to be thrown away.

Notes for next time

Even if ER visits won’t happen too often, bumps, bruises and cuts definitely will, especially as your little toddler turns into a ninja daredevil.

So here are a few thinks to think about:

  • Agree on an emergency plan ahead of time depending on the situation, especially when one or both of them are not present
  • Agree on a go-to medical facility or doctor
  • Each parent should have a copy of the insurance card
  • Make sure care givers / nannies / teachers know your child’s basic medical history and allergies (food or medical)
  • Make sure the first aid kit is well stocked
  • If you’re up to it, keep some steri-strips in the first aid kit
  • If/when something does happen, don’t panic, take a deep breath, think clearly
  • Bring a toy, iPad or book with you to keep your child entertained while you wait
  • Bring a treat for during or after the visit


Any additional good tips out there?

Any ER stories to share?

2 Responses to That first ER visit: notes for next time
  1. Vincent | @CuteMonsterDad
    Twitter: CuteMonsterDad
    April 6, 2012 | 8:49 pm

    Glad to read your daughter survived her clash with the playground equipment. My little stunt woman is also fearless and has on most occasioned increased the count of grey hairs on my head while she remained largely unscathed.

    Being prepared for any potential calamity really is key. Knowing how a child reacts under duress and the means to distract a child will help defuse most situations.

    Overall, I think you’ve compiled a great tip sheet of Moms and Dads to check off to ready themselves for the inevitable injuries kids will endure.

    By the way, I had to chuckle at the Mom who described the wound to be the size of a tic tac. Maybe she meant a box of tic tacs? 🙂
    Vincent | @CuteMonsterDad recently posted…Parents Need Toys tooMy Profile

    • papa
      Twitter: papalogic
      April 15, 2012 | 5:57 am

      Hi Vincent-thanks for dropping by. My girl’s legs are like cheetah’s – except that she has bruises for spots. She also knocks her head against something every other week. I thought the pediatrician might give me suspicious look at our last check-up, but she just said “Ah, I see she’s an active girl.”

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