Interactive Technology Soothes Kids in Emergency Rooms

Winding up in an emergency room is hardly the happiest place on earth for a kid, but at Florida Hospital for Children in Orlando, it’s not unheard of to find a patient who doesn’t want to go home.

Michelle Del Guercio | Photo Researchers | Getty Images

“What we really wanted to create is the wow that we think parents and patients deserve when they come to an emergency room," says Marla Silliman, the administrator of the children’s hospital.

The hospital’s pediatric emergency unit was the first in the U.S. to feature private rooms equipped with interactive, customizable ambient lighting design by KoninklijkePhilips Electronics NV .

Using a touch screen controller, a kid or a parent can change the color of the lighting in the room and choose a cartoon or nature scene to project on the wall.

Early on, head pediatric nurse Martin Thompson discovered the environment not only distracted kids, but made it easier to treat them when one of their first patients barely squirmed and didn’t require much pain medication while getting stitches.

“Other than just the topical ointment that we put on, we were able to suture the child up,” he explains. “So, we cut down on the need for analgesics.”

Silliman says the technology helps cut down on families’ frustration with waiting. So does their 30 minute rule. They try to make sure kids are seen within five minutes of getting to the waiting room, and moved to a bed within 30 minutes. If tests are needed, a staff member updates them every half hour.

“We team up the staff with the environment, and the combination is what delivers a great experience,” says Silliman.

It’s apparently working. Word has spread about the tricked out emergency rooms. The hospital has had to double capacity a full year ahead of schedule.

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