Why Your Child Needs a Pediatric ER for Their Emergency

Understand this specialized ER service
child in emergency room

If a child has a sudden illness or injury, doctors can treat her in a place that Goldilocks would say is “just right” – a pediatric emergency department.

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Pediatric emergency departments are specially equipped for the unique emergency needs of infants, children and young adults. Well-equipped facilities use the latest technology and equipment to ensure that children receive care that perfectly fits their needs.

“Pediatric emergency departments are carefully designed with the specific physical and emotional needs of younger patients in mind,” says Purva Grover, MD, Medical Director of Cleveland Clinic Children’s Pediatric Emergency Departments.

She says doctors and nurses at these facilities have training and experience that helps them talk to children in a way that helps validate their concerns and alleviate their fears.

Your child is not just a small adult

When your child is very ill or injured, you probably feel panicked and head straight for the emergency department. You know that your hospital will treat your child at any time of day or night. Physicians in standard emergency rooms are well-trained and compassionate, but a pediatric emergency department, if conveniently located, offers many advantages for children.

Dr. Grover says children are not simply small adults. They have distinctly different medical needs. They also often exhibit completely different symptoms than an adult with the same condition, she says.

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Catering to young patients

Pediatric emergency departments give your child and your family access to:

  • Doctors who are board-certified in pediatric emergency medicine.
  • Nurses with special training in caring for children of all ages.
  • Technology and equipment designed especially for infants, children and adolescents.
  • Pediatric-only treatment rooms.
  • Separate waiting rooms.
  • Medications especially formulated and prepared in doses for young patients.
  • Child life specialists on staff who guide and support children and their families as they cope with anxiety and fear in the ER.
  • Stretchers and beds properly sized for children and manufactured to the same safety standards as cribs and youth beds.
  • Rooms with a soothing decor that appeals to younger patients.

“Pediatric emergency departments typically treat infants through older adolescents. Some even see youth up to 21 years of age,” says Dr. Grover.

Children don’t have to wait behind adults

Depending on the severity of your child’s emergency, you might have a wait ahead of you, so prepare for this contingency. But pediatric emergency department wait times may be shorter.

“One great thing about a pediatric emergency department is that your child will never have to wait behind an adult with an emergency, since the facility only sees kids. In many cases, this makes wait time shorter and less stressful,” Dr. Grover says.

As with any emergency department visit, make sure you know your child’s medical history, including:

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  • Current medications.
  • Allergies.
  • Previous hospitalizations.
  • Immunization history.
  • Any previous illnesses.

Most pediatric emergency departments allow parents and family members to stay overnight in a child’s room, except in the most severe cases. The room design often accommodates siblings too, so your child will feel safe and surrounded by loved ones.

The specialized design and specially trained staff of a pediatric emergency room are best for children who need emergency care.

But if you don’t have one near you, take your child to the nearest standard emergency department for help. If necessary, the staff will arrange transport for your child to a pediatric emergency facility.

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