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3-3. Pediatric Patient History

The goals in taking the history of a pediatric patient are the same as the goals of taking an adult's history. You are gathering information and establishing a relationship with the patient. There are some important differences in the way you achieve these goals with a pediatric patient as opposed to an adult patient. You may not always be able to obtain the whole history from the patient. You can ask the mother or father or, if necessary, bystanders. Do not discount the child's information if he is able to give information. His information may be an important source of data about his injury. As you take a child's history, remember these points:

a. You may ask questions using a neutral object; for instance, a doll or a teddy bear. A very young child may not be able to describe where he feels pain. If you ask, however, where his teddy bear hurts, he may be able to tell you. He will probably be describing the area in which he feels pain.

b. Older children are more accurate in their descriptions than adults. An older child's ability to communicate has grown, but he has not yet learned, as adults have, to be careful about what he says publicly.

c. Respect the confidentiality and privacy of the adolescent patient. An adolescent is sometimes unusually concerned about whether or not he is in good health. When you have examined his healthy lungs, for example, tell him that his lungs sound good.

David L. Heiserman, Editor

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Revised: June 06, 2015