When your child needs emergency care, you want the best care possible. Luckily for Bay Area parents, world-class care is available 24/7 at the pediatric emergency department at Stanford Medicine.
The Pediatric Emergency Department is located on the Stanford campus and is connected to Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford. It provides comprehensive 24-hour emergency care and is the only emergency department in the area uniquely prepared for pediatric emergencies—with technology and innovative treatment designed specifically with kids in mind.
The emergency department can be stressful for anyone, but the pediatric ED staff at Stanford are specially trained in caring for children, providing an environment and atmosphere that’s calming to tiny humans. Plus, the pediatric ED is connected to the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford, so your little patient can access world-class Stanford specialists and experts, if needed.
We spoke with Dr. Jason Lowe, DO, from the pediatric ED to learn more about how the pediatric emergency department at Stanford Medicine is different from a regular emergency department and why it matters.
Just for Kids
Unlike other emergency departments, the pediatric emergency department at Stanford Medicine is completely separate from the adult ED and the only department in the area solely focused on pediatric emergency care. The pediatric ED at Stanford is designed just for kids, with specially trained staff, child-specific equipment and a kid-friendly environment with colorful, kid-approved artwork.
In addition to physicians and nurses who are certified in pediatric emergency medicine, the department also includes Child Life specialists, who are trained to communicate with children in age-specific ways. They take the "ouch" out of care with developmentally appropriate distraction, non-pharmacological pain management techniques and provide entertainment and comfort during your family's visit.
Care for Kids by Kid Experts
While Dr. Lowe attests to the excellent work traditional ED's do for kids and adults alike, he shares that there are differences in training:
"Someone who wants to work specifically in a pediatric emergency department like Stanford has decided to go through another two to three years of additional pediatric emergency medicine training."
And it's not just the doctors; it's the nurses, too. They also go through additional training to obtain a pediatric emergency nursing certification. This training is essential, since nurses are forward-facing with their young patients even more so than the doctors.
"Nurses are the main point of contact between the hospital and emergency department and the patients and their parents. And so it's super important to have well-trained nurses who are comfortable seeing pediatric patients all day and every day."
Why it Matters
Because the staff is specifically trained and working with children around the clock, they are more comfortable with them. Dr. Lowe shares that research has found someone with less experience with children is more likely to order additional tests, such as blood work or X-rays. This matters, even more, when it comes to unnecessary radiation and your child.
"Community hospitals will order more CT scans than a pediatric emergency department, between 30 to 40 percent more. The (use of) radiation is serious because it can increase the risk of cancer, so we try to minimize radiation use," says Dr. Lowe.
"We do an MRI for head injuries, which has no radiation. We are one of the first pediatric emergency departments in the nation that has studied this and results have shown that it's just as conclusive as CT scans are without the use of radiation."
When To Come In
When your child is sick or has an injury, it's important to not delay care and to get in touch with a healthcare provider as soon as possible. Dr. Lowe mentions that calling your pediatrician before coming into the ED is a good idea in many cases:
"I think the biggest thing we would ask (prior to coming into the ED) is talking to your doctor. Talk to your pediatrician, give them a call. Most pediatricians' offices have an advice line, and you can get their recommendation."
"If the patient is in an extreme amount of pain, if they're having trouble breathing or vomiting a lot, or they're just kind of mentally out of it or super sleepy, then you should come to the emergency department right away."
The pediatric ED at Stanford Medicine is dedicated to providing safe emergency care for kids, especially during COVID. Here are some of the ways they're ensuring safe and quality care:
- Adult and pediatric patients are in separate buildings, with separate entrances for staff.
- Screening all staff, patients, and family members for COVID-19 symptoms prior to entering.
- Designated waiting areas with social distancing.
- Universal masking.
- Care teams with personal protective equipment (PPE).
- Infection control protocols are in place, including robust air filtration and disinfecting exam rooms after each patient.
- Use of telemedicine devices, when clinically appropriate, to reduce direct staff and patient contact
Learn more about the Pediatric Emergency Department at Standford Medicine here.