Center for Injury Research and Prevention

Childhood Traumatic Stress and the Emergency Department Visit

TitleChildhood Traumatic Stress and the Emergency Department Visit
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsBerkowitz SJ, Fein JA
JournalClinical Pediatric Emergency Medicine
Start Page41
Date Published03/2013

In 2008, 45.4 million injured youth were treated in an emergency department (ED) in the United States, most (87.4%) released after treatment. Many of these youth present with significant emotional distress with approximately 20% at risk for posttraumatic stress disorder and other posttrauma-related psychiatric issues. While performing their primary medical functions, ED personnel can also provide psychological support and stabilization that can promote psychological recovery and prevent the onset of posttraumatic difficulties. In addition, the provision of psychoeducation to caregivers and youth about typical posttraumatic reactions both in the ED and upon discharge provides families with information that allows them to recognize that their reactions are not abnormal and also when it is necessary to seek addition psychological help. Increasingly, there are early interventions that appear to prevent the development of chronic posttraumatic stress disorder as well as effective treatments that ED personnel can both describe and refer to.