Dr. Perri Klass thinks there’s a lot adult medicine can learn from pediatrics:

The adage “children are not just small adults” is so basic in pediatrics that you can search medical journals and find it applied to treatments for facial fractures, liver failure and cardiac arrhythmias, for example. We have learned over time to fine-tune medical care to the differently wired physiologies of children, and to their emotional development.

But when it comes to certain aspects of medical treatment, especially hospitalization, perhaps it’s time to acknowledge that adults are really just big children. Illness, pain and the shadows of disability and death — all hospital familiars — make all of us vulnerable, at any age, and reassurance and comfort are welcome. Blood is a useful reminder: Every patient needs to be treated in a way that conserves every drop of strength and resilience.


One place Dr. Klass thinks things can change is in a hospital’s adult ward:

It seems to me we should be able to promise any hospital patient that a relative, a friend, can stay close at hand. We should be able to promise anyone going in for surgery that when she wakes up, someone familiar will be there.

It won’t always be perfectly convenient for hospital routine, but the lesson from pediatric care is that hospitals will adjust. This was all unthinkable in pediatrics, too, just over a half century ago.


Read more of Dr. Klass’s perspective here.