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The Importance of Gut Instinct

This is going to be hard to write. The “what if’s” are going to last a long time. Our daughter took her daughter to urgent care on Sunday with a serious respiratory problem. The doctor there gave a diagnosis that sounded odd and didn’t fit well with the after care instructions.

On instinct we all agreed Monday morning that she needed to go to the emergency room. She went from triage to cubicle and an attending doctor within five minutes of arrival. In fact, she was being seen by the doctor when they brought me the rest of the paperwork to sign her in.

That’s how close we came.

It didn’t have to be that way.

We are trained from childhood that we should always follow the doctor’s orders and that is almost always true. However, there are times when a doctor misses something. There are doctors that don’t know some aspects of care. The urgent care doctor was not a pediatrician. Had we continued to follow her advice blindly I would not be writing today.

I have a few tips that may help you should you face what we just did. Some of this we just learned.

1) Trust your gut. If you feel there is something wrong with the diagnosis get a second opinion. When it comes to a small child’s airway, do it soon. As in do it the same day.

2) Have a list handy with all previous similar problems and how they were treated. Keep a list of all medications that have been taken and another of any that are still being taken. If you use supplements of any sort, keep that on the list.

3) Don’t be afraid to ask any doctor questions. Be polite about it, but there may have been something missed on the intake exam. If that’s the case the doctor needs to know. It could change everything.

4) Talk to the pharmacist about medications and about medication changes. Sometimes there are problems switching from one treatment method to another and knowing that possibility in advance can save time and lives.

5) Under some conditions the child’s school will need to be informed of what is going on. In cases where the airway is possibly compromised they may prefer the child stay home with an adult who knows what to do.

If the illness is communicable, as in the case of measles (not our problem, but… ) everyone who came into contact with the child will have to be informed. This is especially true if the child is in school.

6) Stay informed. While our granddaughter is fully immunized it’s important to know what’s going on in the community. We are aware that two preschools and several stores/restaurants were visited by someone with the measles. It’s the same for other serious illnesses. An early diagnosis may make it easier for the person who becomes ill.

7) You are the parent, grandparent or responsible party for a child. You are part of the decision making process for that child’s care. Keeping quiet when you suspect something could be deadly.