I am frequently asked, “What are the safety concerns for children in the chiropractic practice?”
Having spoken with several chiropractic malpractice insurance carriers, the real issue of safety in the care of children comes outside the scope of care itself but, rather, in office equipment accidents. With that in mind, I will address some key safety standards for the office and adjusting room pertinent to the care of kids.
1. Plants are wonderful. Make sure the ones you have are not poisonous. Even if they may be “out of the reach of children,” leaves may drop on to the floor.
2. All unused electrical outlets should have child safety covers.
3. The entire office should be examined for frayed wires.
4. All cabinets within children’s reach must have safety latches (regardless of what they contain).
5. Check all shelves, desktops, and windowsills for objects that hang down within a child’s grasp. If something is within their arm’s reach, they will pull on it. If it attaches to something that can get pulled down, they will pull it down.
6. Bulletin boards with tacks frequently “shed” tacks on to the floor. Be continuously vigilant of this, or use staples to secure your papers to the board. (This includes tacks for posters on the wall as well.)
7. Children’s play areas may have toys left behind that do not meet the “non-choke” standards. The toy room should be checked daily for these and other hazardous objects left behind.
8. All stairs accessible to children should have a child safety gate at each landing
9. You should not even consider having the “heated” water dispensers in your office near to public accessibility.
10.Bathroom cleaners need to be stored in an out of way place.
11.Chairs (or other climbable furniture) should be away from any unsecured, operable windows.
12.Make sure all bookshelves and other tall pieces of furniture are balanced and secured and cannot topple over if a child tries to climb up.
13.Coffee/magazine tables with extendable sides pinch little fingers.
14.X-ray darkrooms need to be locked from the outside so film chemicals are never accessible to a wandering child.
15.Important emergency numbers should be posted at the CA booth and a CPR/choking chart is equally important and well.
Specific to the adjusting room:
1. All hi-lo adjusting tables must have safety stop features.
2. With drop tables, when adjusting a parent or sibling and a child is standing close by to watch, be sure that their fingers are not anywhere near the table before you make the drop.
3. Warning signs about the potential dangers of children touching equipment allow parents to be aware of the potential hazards of your equipment.
4. As a general rule, children should never be left to wander into unsupervised adjusting rooms.
5. Never leave a child on a table unattended. Even infants who have never rolled over will find the most inappropriate times to take their first roll.
6. Older children should be assisted off the table so they do not loose their balance. Children will frequently make unexpected and erratic moves. Be prepared.
7. When using the infant toggle headpiece, especially if the child is seated, before you make the “drop,” be sure their little fingers are not reaching up and feeling for the headpiece as it is touching their ear.
8. Do not leave the headpiece on a counter with the strap hanging over the edge. It is very tempting for a child to pull it down onto their head.
9. Keep the headpiece out of reach. The knob on it unscrews and 3-7-year old boys love to explore this mechanism and unscrew it. The hazard comes with the tiny ball and spring that can fall out after the screw is taken out. If dropped on the floor, these become treasures for crawling infants who are also at the stage of putting everything into their mouths.
Although this list may not be complete for every office, it is a good start. If you have additional suggestions, please e-mail them to me:
Dr. Jeanne Ohm instructs internationally on the topic “Chiropractic Care for Pregnant Women and Children.” She is executive coordinator of the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association and can be reached via their website at www.icpa4kids.com.
Information about the upcoming Pangea 2006 Conference, Oct. 26-28, can be found on the ICPA website: www.icpa4kids.com.