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“Back To School” Health Checklist

Emergency Physicians to Parents: Do a “Back To School” Health Checklist

Washington, DC – As students return to school for another year, the nation’s emergency physicians have developed a checklist for parents and guardians to help make sure that students stay healthy in the classroom, rather than have to seek emergency care.

“Many times parents focus so much attention on back to school clothes, supplies and daily school year routines, that they sometimes overlook some very basic tasks that are important to prepare for a medical emergency,” said Dr. Sandra Schneider, president of the American College of Emergency Physicians. “Planning is best way to ensure the most effective response in an emergency, so take the initiative now. You can usethis simple checklist to help kick off a successful and healthy school year.”

• Organize your child’s medical history records and emergency medical contact information. Provide a copy of this information to your child’s school and any daycare providers with instructions to take it with them to the emergency department if your child is sick or injured. The form should include information related to prescription medications, medical problems, or previous surgeries as well as pertinent family history and emergency contacts. Free forms can be downloaded at http://www.emergencycareforyou.org/forms. The emergency information form is available for children with special needs. Complete a consent-to-treat form and give copies to the school nurse and any daycare providers to keep in your child’s record and to take with them if your child should need to go to the emergency department. The form will allow caregivers to authorize medical treatment
• Work with the school nurse and your child’s physician to develop action plans for any health issues your child has, such as asthma or food allergies. Communicate these plans to all appropriate care givers.
• Schedule medical and dental check-ups before schools starts. Some children will need immunizations. Consider vision and hearing tests, since impairment can adversely affect learning. Consider a sports check-up if your child will be playing in sports.
• Review and do a dry run with your child of their route to school, explaining potential hazards along the way. If your child walks to school, make sure he or she understands potential traffic dangers.
• If your child takes the bus, establish a safe, visible pick up/drop off spot, preferably with a group of additional children and in an area where they can be clearly watched by adults. If your child drives to school, make sure he or she obeys all laws and wear seatbelts.
• Make sure your children know how to telephone for help. Post emergency-contact numbers by every telephone in your home. Have them practice how to call 911or the local emergency number, and giving their name, address and a brief description of the problem.
• Develop a family emergency plan in case something happens on the way to or while at school. Be aware of the emergency and evacuation plans your children’s schools may have established.

“Please take initiative now and protect the health of your kids this school year,” said Dr. Schneider. “Their time should be spent on learning, spending time with friends and extra-curricular activities, not on trips to the emergency department because of something that could have been avoided.”

ACEP is a national medical specialty society representing emergency medicine. ACEP is committed to advancing emergency care through continuing education, research and public education. Headquartered in Dallas, Texas, ACEP has 53 chapters representing each state, as well as Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. A Government Services Chapter represents emergency physicians employed by military branches and other government agencies.