Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in the Child of an Adult Burn Victim: A Case Report and Review of the Literature


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Abstract

Adults with a myriad of medical and surgical conditions are at risk for pain, delirium, and disfigurement. Needless to say, these critical illnesses are profoundly stressful for patients and their caregivers. However, physicians rarely consider the reactions of children to their parents' illnesses. The article presents the case of a 15-year-old girl who developed posttraumatic stress disorder following her mother's severe burn and complicated course in a critical care unit; the case is used to discuss strategies for the detection of psychological vulnerability and for the implementation of care. By learning more about the children of adult patients, by screening for interpersonal dysfunction, and by maximizing support systems, clinicians can improve function and minimize distress.

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