Dear Parents

Thank you for bringing your children into the Emergency Room/Casualties Dept today. I’m a firm believer that parents need to have an extremely low threshold for seeking medical help when their children are ill enough that it causes either them or you discomfort. You are a great parent just for being here with them and choosing Casualty Club, its doctors, nurses and lone medical student to administer their care.

We will do all that we can to ensure your child receives the best quality of management during their stay so that we can get them back up and playing in the shortest possible time. But while you’re here, we’d like to draw your attention to a few things that may be of importance for this and future visits.

  • Your child’s health is our priority. We want to figure out what’s wrong.
    The fact that you are here is testament enough to the fact that it is yours too. However, in your haste to obtain help, you may have forgotten a few key items and pieces of information that it is imperative we have in order to make the best possible management decisions. We understand that this may be your first experience, so we’ll walk you through it for next time:

      Please try to keep track of your child’s symptoms. If we ask you when the problem started, how long it’s been going on, when it was worst, how quickly it escalated, and which symptoms came first, the answers “I don’t know”/”How should I know?”/”You tell me”/”Why does it matter” are neither helpful nor acceptable. You need to know how long your child has been sick at the very least, even if you give a rough estimate of whether the symptoms started yesterday, last week or last year.

      Please pay attention to the things coming out of your child’s body, especially if these things are the reason they’ve come to the Emergency Room. So, if your child is suddenly vomiting, it helps if you’ve actually seen the vomitus. If your child has been having diarrhea, it helps if you’ve been monitoring the evolution of the stool. Yes, we know it’s disgusting and your child is probably nearing school years and you don’t hang that tight anymore, but I’m sure you can appreciate why the presence or absence of blood, or weird colors like black or neon pink, might be causes of concern and might lead us towards a completely different diagnosis. Also, it helps if you know how much of whatever it is the child has excreted. I think the “how many cups?” question is rather stupid, so we might be satisfied if you at least know a little from a lot.

      When we ask you whether your child has been taking any medication, anything over the counter counts. Anything your sangoma or homeopath prescribed also counts. Your grandmother’s pain pills that you ground into their porridge? Yeah, that counts. The home-administered enema you routinely give your kids every month? That counts. Your store-bought Chinese herbal remedies? They count. Basically anything that has entered any part of your child’s body for whatever reason (that isn’t food) counts. Why? Because we might underestimate just how ill your child is because they’ve taken an NSAID or paracetamol which is suppressing more serious symptoms. And also because whatever you’re giving could interact with whatever we give, causing things to spiral out of control. (Or, but we never say this until absolutely sure, whatever you gave them might in and of itself be harming the kid. Just maybe.) Let us know?

      PS: We don’t know what “those small pink pills” are. We aren’t trained in the art of pill-identification, much as we’d like to be. So if you don’t know the names, bring the boxes. Thanks!

      If this has happened before, the answer is yes: That is relevant.Thanks for telling us before we ordered a chest x-ray for your otherwise healthy seven year old with a wheeze that he gets whenever he plays sports. And has today. After having played sports.

      You need to bring your Road To Health Card (or your private equivalent) with you whenever you come. Especially in an emergency case. Not sure what we’re referring to? There is a little booklet or card that you were given when your child was born, that the sisters sign each time he visits the clinic, goes to the doctor, has a check-up or gets an immunization (the injections he gets every once in a while). We need to know your child’s immunization status. We need to know their nutritional status in comparison to the last few months (that’s why we plot their weight so often). We need to see that he or she has been developing well. We need to know they’ve been dewormed. Unfortunately, these aren’t things we can guess. We need the book. Someone can bring it later if you forgot it, but even if we’ve diagnosed the problem we still need it. And we’re going to need it until they are no longer a child, or at least until they get their last immunizations at about twelve.

      There’s a weird gap between five and twelve when they don’t use it all that often and you might be tempted to misplace it. Don’t.

  • Thank you for your cooperation in this regard. We trust that you will experience a pleasantly high quality of professionalism and efficiency from our staff from start to finish of this (hopefully) brief stay.

    Don’t forget to rate us with the smiley face system before you leave!



    Filed under Elective

    2 responses to “Dear Parents

    1. Haha. I like this. Should make it in pamphlet form 🙂
      Question: is there really a private equivalent to the RTHC? I was under the impression everyone nationally had to use the same one. Then again, that may be why my parents insisted on taking us all to a public clinic for our clinic cards.

      • I was so surprised to find that some private GPs and pediatricians give their patients customized versions of RTHC. The ones I’ve seen have been fold-out versions with the main difference being the inclusion of things that are ‘optional’ in the public setting (like MMR at about 4-5 years of age and neurodevelopmental screens beyond three years of age.) Private practice is like an alternate dimension!

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