Pediatric Emergency Care
Physicians in the pediatric emergency service treat life-threatening illnesses, traumatic injuries, and less-serious conditions that include:
- Abdominal pain, dehydration, fever, severe vomiting or diarrhea
- Broken bones
- Head injuries
- Food allergies
- Foreign bodies lodged in the airway or gastrointestinal tract
In an emergency situation, we advise parents to call 911 if their child has any difficulty breathing, change in normal mental status, lethargy, loss of consciousness, sudden rash with fever, severe abdominal pain with vomiting, or any significant type of traumatic injury, burn or accidental ingestion. "Parents should start by contacting their pediatrician unless it appears to be something serious, in which case, they should seek immediate medical attention in an emergency center," says Shari Platt, MD, Site Chief of Pediatric Emergency at NewYork-Presbyterian/Lower Manhattan Hospital.
What to Expect
Triage is the process of evaluating the seriousness of your child's illness or injury. When you first arrive, you and your child will be seen by the triage nurse who is specially trained to take care of children in the Emergency Service. This registered nurse will ask you questions about your child's illness or injury, check your child's temperature and weight, and briefly examine your child. It is important to give all the needed information to the triage nurse. If your child has a life-threatening or very serious illness or injury, he or she will be seen by a doctor with the nurse right away. Before you arrive to the Emergency Department, your child's primary care provider may have called to tell us about your child and his or her condition.
After triage, you will usually go to the registration area. The registrar will ask you for information such as your address and telephone number. This information will help us to contact you or your child's doctor about your child's care. Paperwork necessary for your ER visit will be given to you at that time.
You may be asked to wait in the waiting area until an exam room or doctor is available to see your child. Please understand that patients may not be seen in the same order of their arrival to the Emergency Department. Patients with the most serious illnesses and injuries will usually be given priority. While you are in the waiting area, please do not give your child anything to eat or drink without checking with the triage nurse first. If you notice that your child is getting sicker or is in more pain, tell the triage nurse right away.
As soon as possible, you and your child will be brought into an exam room. A team of doctors and nurses will care for your child. Your child may be evaluated by two different doctors. Your child may be initially seen by a resident physician, who is a medical doctor in training to care for children. Your child will also be seen by an attending physician, who is a medical doctor who is trained to care for children with emergencies. The attending physician supervises the care of your child. Depending on your child's condition, your doctor may order a blood test, X-rays, or other tests to help determine what is wrong with your child. Each test will be fully explained to you before it is performed.
A top priority in our Pediatric Emergency Service to make sure each child is as comfortable as possible, and to rapidly assess and treat pain. If your child is in any pain, please make sure a doctor or nurse is notified so that the proper medication can be given.
Depending on the mechanism and extent of an injury, the child may require an X-ray or a CT scan (computed tomography scan -- a series of detailed pictures of areas inside the body, taken from different angles).
When your child's care is complete, the doctor or nurse will give you instructions on how to care for your child's illness or injury. They will also tell you about follow-up care. If you have any questions after you leave, call the Pediatric Emergency Services at 212-746-3300 or you may also call your child's primary care provider.
Admission To The Hospital
Pediatric patients who require advanced care or hospitalization will be transferred to the pediatric inpatient unit at Komansky Children's Hospital at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center.