An Emergency Department trip can be nerve-wracking and daunting – for children and parents alike. To help calm your nerves, here’s a summary of what you’ll encounter at the Julia and George Argyros Emergency Department (ED) at CHOC Children’s Hospital:
Pull into the ED driveway off Pepper Street. Valet parking is available for ED visitors: Just leave your keys with an attendant. Complimentary valet parking is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Once you enter the ED lobby, a registered nurse at the screening desk will greet you and determine your reason for visiting. If there’s a wait, you will be called to the screening desk in the order of your arrival – unless your child’s condition requires immediate attention.
Next, an employee will obtain your registration information. This happens in two steps: When you arrive, the employee confirms your basic identification information. Before you leave, staff will ask for other information, such as your insurance carrier and primary doctor.
Your child will be called into a triage suite, where a nurse will ask questions, collect vital information such as temperature, pulse and weight, and perform a basic exam. During triage, the nurse assesses the child’s condition and determines the urgency of the situation and what type of care the child will need.
In most cases, children are seen by a triage nurse in the order that they arrived, but those with serious injuries or illnesses may go ahead of other patients. This is why you might notice some families being called first even if they arrived after you. If a treatment area or exam room is available upon your arrival, you will bypass the triage process entirely.
If all treatment rooms are full following triage, you and your child will wait in the lobby. While there, please do not allow your child to eat or drink. Notify the screening nurse if the child’s condition changes or if she needs a scheduled medication. If you must leave the ED before treatment, notify an employee.
Here is where your child will receive treatment. The ED has several types of treatment areas that are each set up to provide a specific type of care. You might notice another family called ahead of you from the lobby should a space related to that child’s needs become available.
Once inside, you will be given a hospital gown for your child. Please undress your child and place him or her in the gown as quickly as possible to avoid a delay in the exam. If you bypassed the triage process, your child will undergo a similar exam here before seeing an ED physician.
Your physician might order tests and perform treatments, which will all be carefully explained to you. The doctor will also review test results with you. The physician will also plan for follow-up care, and, if necessary, hospital admission.
A patient is discharged once the physician gives approval for you and your family to leave. Be sure that you have a clear understanding of any instructions from your physician before you leave.
Your Emergency Department Packing List
The decision to take a sick or injured child to the ED can be abrupt, but if you have some time, consider bringing along a few items that could prove helpful during the visit:
• Diapers, formula and other baby supplies
• A list of any medicines your child takes
• Any referral paperwork, X-rays or lab results
• A blanket, stuffed animal, favorite toy or anything else that will comfort your child
• Personal necessities, such as a cellular phone charger, and change for the pay phone
Though documentation is not necessary, it’s important to know the following information when you visit the ED:
• If your child is current on his or her immunizations
• Your child’s primary physician
• Your child’s medical history
Here’s what not to bring to the ED:
• Food or drink is not allowed in the ED, and consuming anything before treatment can put a child at risk.
• If possible, try to make childcare arrangements for infant siblings during influenza season. Babies are at particular risk for contracting the flu.
Learn more about the Julia and George Argyros Emergency Department at CHOC Children’s.