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How do I make a difference?

jaci jaci (New) New

Last night my 3yr old had a severe allergic reaction to an ant bite. We rushed him to the ER on base (military) fairly quickly, but got held up by the Unit Clerk and the ER techs. We sat in a holding room for over five minutes when the ER tech finally came in wanting medical cards and trying to ask about vitals. I begged and pleaded with this man to get a doctor or triage nurse to look at him right away, but my pleas went on deaf ears. My son's breathing decreased and he began vomiting during his pt.assesment. Only then did the ER tech slowly walk to the back to try and find a nurse. The nurse came out running and they rushed him back into the ER. The doctor told me later that the first 15-30 minutes after a bite is the most life-threatening. I know we spent a good 10min. in that room.

I know I am a parent and I was rightly worried, but why would they waste such important time that could have cost my son his life? The ER team was great and did a wonderful job. It was just the part of trying to get from A to B. How do I prevent this from happening again? How can I convince someone that the matter is serious without sounding like Im panicking over nothing?

be more pushy. the squeaky wheel gets the grease. sounds like they've allowed the technicians to take over the place.

dianah, ADN

Has 45 years experience. Specializes in Cath Lab/Radiology.

Write a letter to the hospital administrator and the head of the ED, telling your story and suggesting improvements: a clear pathway for triage for the clerks (anyone coming in with suspected allergic reaction is to be seen IMMEDIATELY, etc); have a nurse roam the waiting area for possible problems. Or, contact the MD who saw your child, to get HIS suggestions of how things might better be done. If you're met with resistance or noncommittal/noncaring responses, contact your local newspaper (hospitals HATE to see bad PR). I don't work in an ED, and I'm sure those who do would have much better suggestions than I of how to approach this. Good luck, continue to be a strong advocate for your family, whether you're a nurse or not: you know in your gut when something is wrong with them. -- D


Has 20 years experience. Specializes in Pain Mgmt, ICU nursing, L/D Nursing.

DITTO WITH THE ABOVE!!!!! I personally don't care what kind of trouble I stir or who I make mad when it comes TO MY CHILDREN!!!

Good luck!

Did you say that this ER was on a military base? Things do not always work the same on a military base as they do in the regular hospital ER.

Having spent 12 years in the army I can assure you that a letter to the hospital commander will work. It is true that the military "works differently"

HOWEVER, There should be a RN doing triage. At the very least the medic who is apparently doing the triage should be better trained, and should be much better trained to get an RN sooner.

The military invented TRIAGE. At this facility they are doing a poor job. There is no excuse, military or not, for a clerk or medic to stand between a patient and emergency medical care.

I assure you the letter to the hospital commander will get some genuine attention.

I used to work in an ED in a military town...once there was a mom with a 2-yr old in OBVIOUS respiratory distress - I was called out to triage, walked into the waiting room and immediately brought her and the child back - O2 sat was 89%, lungs were FULL - they had waited 8 hrs in the military hospital ED triage area already. We had to fight with the pediatrician at the military hospital to get the ok to send this kid to a regional center that had a Peds ICU but we won the fight.....

Also in same ED had a woman here on business (diabetic) come in comatose from her hotel room with unknown down-time - temp too low to register, found out that 2 days prior she had been seen in the military ED for n/v, given phenergan and sent home with a blood sugar of over 500. That doc got fired.

Not a new story with military hospitals, unfortunately.


jaci, I really don't have any experience with military hospitals, what really worried me was when you said that your child was triaged by a tech. I have said this before: one of the toughest jobs in any hospital is ED triage, and this should only be done by an experinced nurse that has ACLS. I think this should be minimum requirments for any ED. I have nothing against having techs in ED, BUT not in triage. Should this ever happen again, I would insist on seeing the charge nurse at once. Did the dr recommend you having an allergy kit at home for your child now? I am also allergic to ant bites, and I keep epi and Benadyrl with me since my last reaction. How is your son doing now? Let us know!


Has 20 years experience.

I agree w/the above. A LETTER TO THE HOSPITAL COMMANDER is in order. And a call to the base hotline (base commander) also. It ought to bring some heat and light on the situation. Unlike what is commonly thought, you CAN seek redress in military hospitals. I know. I have been seen in them for 20+ years as active duty and dependent. And these letters/calls are NOT IGNORED. My letter of complaint effected a whole policy change in an OB dept at one military hospital which could save lives (I was in a precarious situation missed by doctors, long story). So do that and I wish you the best! Hope you kiddo is ok!!!

I am so sad you went through this...but glad your child is OK. Now you need to get an epi pen yourself (like Zudy said) and won't have to wait on the healthcare system next time, you can start treatment yourself.

Techs doing triage in ER is dangerous...none of my area acute hospitals allow this.....write your letters and let us know how things go.

Even a brand new nurse recognizes a severe allergic reaction....the SS are pounded into our heads in school. The fact this tech strolled to find a nurse ONLY after you complained shows how much she DOESN'T need to be working there. :(

Nothing hurts us more than stuff like this affecting our kids. :(

I am so sorry this happened, but let me clarify something about military hospitals and techs. I was a "tech" once in the military but I was a fuly trained combat medic and we learned all about traige and how to do it. The ER I worked in at one base was nothing but techs and docs. We did not even have any nurses in that ER. It ran quite smoothly. We even had a few mass casualty incidents that we handled as well as we did our own Ambulance runs. They are not your average ER tech that is in the outside world. They are better trained for the most part and better equipped. I think you probably got a bad oine that night. There is a recourse for you. Get a hold of your husbands unit commander as well as the base commander. If your husband is an enlisted get ahold of his first seargent. that is what theya re there for also. They can got something done about it.

Just follow the chain of command, that is the best way to get things done and corredcted.

Good luck,


Thank you for all of your replies. I took my son to his Peds appt. today for referral to allergist and for more EpiPens. I was discussing my situation with a couple of nurses during my appt. and one of them was not suprised but added that the same ER techs nearly killed his son!! Apparently this is a common problem and this is really sad b/c it is a HUGE and very important military hospital. I just don't understand. :confused:

I have to go through a patient representative to file my complaint about that, along with one other.

I forgot to mention the other night that the ER doctor perscribed me two EpiPen jrs .15mg and the pharmacist gave me one correct .15 jr and an Adult EpiPen. I didn't realize the error she had made until we had gotten home. Thank God I didn't need it that night or I would have been in trouble.

I will update as soon as I find out more. Thanks for all your replies and positive thoughts. :)

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