Monday, July 12, 2010

parents, a few thoughts if you go to urgent care...

A family member recently went to urgent care and it got me thinking. From experience, both as a mom and a doc, there are a few things that can save you a TON of worry and time.

1) Ask whom to call if there is a problem with any prescriptions (what is the on-call physician number to call if you are at a clinic-based system.) We once had an antibiotic Rx "called in" to Walgreens and by the time I got there, the clinic was closed and Walgreen's had no record of the call... (It took about 90 minutes of calling back and forth, and pulling the "I'm a doctor" card to get the meds...) Also, who to call if the first dose results in vomiting?
2) ALWAYS ask for a written Rx, even if they "call in" a script (which is really handy on a weekend, which is when kids always seem to get sick...) That way if there is a problem, you have a paper back-up. If they are reluctant to call it in and hand you an Rx, ask them to put an expiration date on it, or whatever they are comfortable doing so you can have a paper copy. Lie if it makes you feel better, something like, "I know it's a hassle, but we once got really burned when the pharmacy said they couldn't find the script and the clinic closed and it took lots of work to get the medication." This will not work with narcotics or controlled substances FYI.
3) Ask what signs to look for that indicate if things are getting worse and what to do about it.
4) Call your pharmacy in advance to be sure they are open. In fact, if it's an odd Rx, you might even call ahead to see if they have the actual drug (recently the on-site pharmacy at my clinic did not have the ear-drops I needed so I called to another pharmacy to be sure I didn't waste a trip.) Most standard antibiotics won't need a call. Ask your prescriber if it is a commonly prescribed medication if you aren't sure.
5) Stock up on any 'as needed' meds when you get your prescription. Be sure to check if you have the right doses or types of meds for your child. Any Tylenol (warning, another recall just happened) or Ibuprophen or Benadryl etc. When your child is ready, a chewable is often preferable to huge swigs of infant or toddler liquids.
6) Speak up if you have any questions or concerns. I find it's much easier to be pushy or an advocate for my child than or myself. Don't be shy if you have questions.
7) If there are other children in the home, ask what to look out for and get the name written down of the actual diagnosis and the actual med so you can help out the nurse on-call, or the doc when your other little one gets sick :)
8)If your child is on any regular medications, bring them all with you in a brown bag. Have a current print-out from your family doctor or pediatrician about any allergies, problem-lists and medications.
9) Find out in advance which hospitals have pediatric ER for when it's really bad. Hopefully you'll never need it, but if a pediatric ER is the same distance as a regular hospital (as is the case where I live) you'll want to know where to go.

What else? I've been lucky with a pretty healthy child, other tips from parents out there?


  1. Great tips here. Another important one, always, always check the label on your prescription when you get it - whether from the pharmacist, clerk, or if you have it delivered. We once had an Rx delivered in the evening for a child with an ear infection, and the medicine actually delivered was a heart medication for an adult!

  2. Whoa! THanks enviro-Granny (love that name BTW!) Great tip. Yes, always read the bottle, name etc.And double check on dosage etc. be sure to use an actual measuring spoon meant for meds, not a kitchen teaspoon! Good call!

  3. If this is a med your loved one has taken before, check to be sure the med INSIDE the bottle looks like what you've used before.

    If the source has changed and so the appearance is a little different despite being the same med, they should notify you (in person or by a little sticker on the bottle).

    If your loved one is in the hospital etc. and has regular meds they take, check the meds they are being given to see if you recognize them. I've caught MANY a mistake via visual inspection.

    Hospitals are high-traffic facilities and it is very easy for even the most careful staff to make an error. You REALLY have to stay on top of watching the meds.

    These hints are probably more applicable for older loved ones in the hospital (who are more likely to have regular meds than little children) but you never know.

    I've just found that if you have any loved one getting meds in a facility, you REALLY have to check regularly and stay on top of things. Prescription/meds errors are more common than people think.

  4. sad but true! Medication errors are high. A recent study confirmed that July is the worst month for med-errors, so high-alert!