March 8, 2014

Children Aren't Just Little Adults

I just attended a lecture about pediatric prehospital care.  The first slide was what the first slide normally is in lectures like this: “Children aren’t just little adults.”
(From Larali21 via Wikimedia Commons, with permission)

The point that the presenter (who was very good, by the way) was trying to make is that there are differences between adults and children regarding vital signs, anatomy, physiology, communication abilities, etc.  It is a valid point to make.  But the point is banal.  Trite.  Elementary.

Athletes aren’t just fit adults.

Elderly patients aren’t just old adults.

Teens aren’t just young adults.

Women aren’t just homogametic adults.

Men aren’t just enpenised adults.

Asthmatics aren’t just reactive airway diseased adults.

Black people aren’t just pigmented adults.

Cardiac arrests aren’t just pulseless adults.

Quadriplegics aren’t just paralyzed adults.

The mentally disabled aren’t just intellectually challenged adults.

Psychiatric patients aren’t just ‘crazy’ adults.

There are very few patients who present completely the way that a textbook has told you to expect. Those that do fit into a textbook description probably do so through luck, and it is a temporary or superficial occurrence.  Every class or type of patient presents challenges and rewards.  Every patient could potentially present difficulties in communication, decision-making, examinations, and treatments. 

Different classes of patients have different organs, vital signs, risk factors, mortality rates, healing abilities, disease pathologies, customs, expectations, needs, desires, abilities, and so on.

As prehospital professionals, it is up to us to educate ourselves as to the differences commonly found in different types of patients, not just with children.  

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