Hey everyone! I'm just a "pre-nursing" student.... but I have been volunteering at our community hospital on the Birthing Unit for a little over 6 months now. Basically I just do little tasks here and there, but one thing we do do (hehe) is take the patients down to the front after they have been discharged.
Typically, I go into the patients room while they are still packing everything up and wheel them downstairs. However, 9 times out of 10 , these are new parents (or parents with much older children) and they are fumbling trying to put their baby in the car seat. The straps are not adjusted properly, the baby is not sitting in their correctly, the pads are too bulky or not padded enough for the small size of the newborn.... etc..
Then when it comes time to put the carseat in the car.... the seat belt is not properly fit, the carseat is too loose, there is no locking clip to keep the belt tightened, etc.
AND I'M NOT ALOUD TO SAY ONE THING ABOUT IT!!!
I admit, I'm not a certified car seat safety expert. But I have 3 children, all of who have been in carseats from the day they were born and I have read every instructional booklet that comes with the seat, and I have made sure the seats are properly installed, etc....
Last week I was discharging a Hispanic family and they carried the baby down stairs. I asked if they had a carseat (it was difficult because they didn't speak English very well, and I don't speak Spanish very well), but they said yes and went out to the car to get it.
It was a carseat that a typical 3-4 year old would ride in. It was old and dingy and the straps were set up at the highest level. They tried to put the baby in, they couldn't figure out how to snap the belt, and the straps were so high they were up and over, covering the poor little guys face. And then, when they installed it in the car, I didn't see them belt the carseat in.
It was so frustrating because (even if I could speak Spanish) I couldn't tell them that it was not in there correctly.
I'm just wondering what kind of policies other hospitals have and if this is typical, why? Why isn't there someone who is certified in installing carseats on staff to help these new parents out? If it is for liability reasons, wouldn't it be worse if the parents weren't told how to properly install the seat and then they get into an accident?? I'm curious as to what you all think and have experienced.
I realize I'm only a volunteer, but I guess I'd like to bring this up to someones attention just to see what the reasoning behind all this is....
Thanks for reading this long post... any suggestions, ideas, or experiences are appreciated!
Last edit by luvmy3kids on Sep 29, '06
Sep 29, '06
When I volunteered at a hospital, I SEVERAL times had to instruct parents on how to adjust the straps, hook the seat in, etc. I don't know if it was in my scope of "volunteer". I didn't ask. I was ALWAYS a stickler when it came to my own kids seats and would double check my dh and mil's work. They NEVER seemed to be able to do it right. I am an expert by experience. I may not be certified by some authority or hospital, but I did what I felt was right. I don't feel bad, I don't feel like I did anything wrong by helping them get the straps adjusted tightly or telling them what the locking clip is for and how to properly use it. If they didn't have one, I stressed that they need to get one immediately and to get it from babies r us.
It must be really hard for you to hold back. I don't think I could handle that. Why don't you go to your supervisor and ask them if you were to become certified in child seat installation, could you then give direction and assistance. Good luck to you and thanks for looking out for the little ones and the uninformed.
Sep 30, '06
I agree, it's great that you have seen a need. I would put it in writing to your manager - it makes it hard for them to disagree, in case something untoward happened later and you had warned them in writing it was a risk. I wouldn't be pushy, but just say that you have found an educational opportunity, and would be happy to investigate getting trained in this to maximize the safety of your patients.
Sep 30, '06
At our local hospital where we did clinicals we always got to push the new mother to the car. We were not allowed to say anything about the car seat. The parent did have to bring the carrier section of the seat up to the floor so that the nurse could see that they had a appropriate car seat for a newborn. One of the parents put the baby in the seat then the mother was pushed down stairs carring the seat with the baby restrained. We were not allowed to hook the carrrier into the car section or tell them if it was hooked in wrong. We just had to make sure that it was hooked in period. It was said that somewhere there was a large law suit becouse a nurse had put the car seat in and for some reason it failed during an accident on the way home and the baby was killed. It is supposidly that the hospital is only responsibe for the infant until it is in the parents car so if they wreck on the way home and they were responible for the car seat and car than they cant sue the hospital.
Sep 30, '06
Why aren't you allowed to say anything? Are you allowed to offer to help with the carseat?
At the last place I worked, new parents had to show the carseat in order to take Baby home...they had to prove they had a seat.
At my current facility this is not required. When I asked my ER manager about it, I was told that hospitals are not required to see the seat or see that Baby is properly secured, only that information on the child safety seat law and seat procurement is made available to parents.
Sep 30, '06
The hospital I used to work at requires that a Child Passenger Safety Technician check the car seat and educate parents on proper fit and installation. It takes about 30 minutes and the CPSTs are volunteers from the community (mostly firefighters and police officers). Most parents are appreciative and welcome the help...some get really angry or tell us that they can't let their newborn ride backward becasue they will choke or get car sick or something like that. I can't imagine just letting someone drive away with a baby that you know is improperly restrained...you wouldn't let someone leave without being educated on how to take their medicine..why is educating about carseats any different?
Sep 30, '06
When I had my daughter a year ago, during pre admission, the hospital stated that we had to have a car seat/pmpkin seat to take the baby home. When it came time to leave, the nurse stressed the point that she could not put the baby in the seat and that we had make sure it was secure in the car. She stated this was because of liability reasons. THe hospital was only responsible for the safety of the baby while "in" the hospital.
Sep 30, '06
It's funny you asked this question, I just had finished my first day on postpartum and we had to walk a few moms down to be picked up. Before we even got onto to the floor that morning our instructor made it very clear that we are NOT to EVER help the mother/family place the newborn into the carseat. We can however, EXPLAIN how to place them in if they seem to be having trouble. Our instructor told us that it comes down to the fact that if WE put them into the seat wrong and godforbid something happens to the baby...the fault is on the hospital.
Sep 30, '06
When I had my dd, we just had to show we had a carseat. Thats it. We had a bucket infant seat, so we carried her out of the hospital in it. The nurse wheeled me to the car and did not check anything else. One hospital where I used to do clinicals, gave the family a carseat to take the baby home in, but did not offer assistance in installing it. That hospitals OB unit is now closed.
Sep 30, '06
Uggh, that's common here, too. None of the hospitals can help with seats- and of course only a specialist should, but I'd love to see more access to CPSTs. Encourage OB and Peds staff to take the course, volunteers, too. The largest hospital in the area (800 beds with trauma center) has checks with CPSTs about 4 times a year- not nearly enough to make an impact.
My other peeve by the way is peds healthcare professionals who know nothing about carseats and safety but give advice anyway. That includes requiring an infant carrier seat in cases when a convertible would be just as safe for a newborn.
The most common I hear from parents is at the 1 yr check-up "congrats, your child is over 1 year and 20 lbs, you can turn her forward now" or worse "you should turn her forward" I dare them to challange me on that! Taking a CPST course would be ideal but at least read the AAP guidelines, right?
Sep 30, '06
Our CPSTs explain how to use the car seat properly, then they demonstrate how to do it, and ask the parent's to duplicate proper fitting and installation. We encourage parents-to-be to have their seat checked before the baby is born...if they do, they get a car seat for $25 instead of the usual $35 or $50 or whatever. They sell convertibles and boosters at 1/2 price too if parents go through the 30 minutes of training.
I let my CPST expire...it got frustrating how many parents would be openly rude to us about not thinking the seats should be so tight in the car, not wanting infants rear facing, not wanting a navy blue seat for a girl (we bought them in bulk), wanting a free seat (we used to give them away for free, but our grant expired), babysitters and day cares wanting seats at the discount price, etc. A lot of our current volunteers are letting their CPST lapse too...time for the nurses to step up and go through the course.
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