Although dealing with a chronically ill child who is hospitalized frequently tends to lead to natural friendships with medical staff parents see on a regular basis, it is imperative to remember to maintain good boundaries with medical professionals and staff. Medical personnel, including nurses and therapists, are mandated reporters who must report suspicions of child abuse to the state child protective services department. An offhand comment or venting session can easily be misinterpreted by someone who maintains this professional obligation and may inadvertently lead to an investigation by Child Protective Services. Please click here for more information on communicating and advocating with medical professionals.
Given these risks, families should try to seek support from outside of hospital personnel while their child is hospitalized, especially for extended periods of time. MitoAction’s Mito411 line is always available for support via email or phone at 1-888-MITO-411 (648-6411). Various local non-profit organizations also exist for in-person support, such as local Parent to Parent affiliates. Ideally, hospitals and complex care practices also provide opportunities for outside support so families don’t feel so dependent on the medical community to fill that void. Hospitals usually have social workers who can direct families to appropriate resources that can provide in-person support, and primary care physicians might also know of resources. Identifying such resources in advance of a hospitalization will lessen stress significantly when a crisis emerges.