CHOC Children’s wants its patients and families to get to know its specialists. Today, meet Dr. Mary Jane Piroutek, a pediatric emergency medicine specialist who has been on staff at CHOC for five years. Dr. Piroutek graduated from the University of California, Irvine School of Medicine. She completed her pediatric residency at CHOC Children’s and a pediatric emergency medicine fellowship at Loma Linda University Medical Center. She’s also an assistant professor in the department of emergency medicine at Loma Linda University.
Q: What are your special clinical interests?
A: I am especially interested in pediatric trauma, environmental injuries, and endocrine emergencies.
Q: What are some new programs or developments within your specialty?
A: CHOC’s emergency department became a level II pediatric trauma center in 2015. We are the only trauma center in Orange County dedicated exclusively to kids. Or trauma team consists of physicians, nurses, pharmacists, radiology technicians, respiratory therapists, social workers, child life, and a hospital chaplain.
Q: What are your most common diagnoses?
A: Abdominal pain (from gastroenteritis to appendicitis), seizures, traumatic injuries (lacerations, closed head injuries, fractured arms and legs), and respiratory illnesses (bronchiolitis, asthma, and pneumonia).
Q: What would you most like patients and families to know about you or your division at CHOC?
A: At CHOC, our emergency department is staffed with fellowship-trained pediatric emergency medicine specialists. Our dual training makes us especially knowledgeable and skilled in caring for your child during their visit. CHOC Children’s is the only emergency department in Orange County that exclusively treats children. Treating children in an environment created especially for them makes what could be a scary experience into something more enjoyable.
Q: What inspires you most about the care being delivered here at CHOC?
A: CHOC delivers the highest level of pediatric care while embracing and caring for the entire family.
Q: Why did you decide to become a doctor?
A: In high school I volunteered in a community hospital in the labor and delivery unit. I really enjoyed being part of a family’s joyous occasion. In college I volunteered in the emergency department and marveled at the fast pace, acuity and unpredictably of what the next patient’s case would bring. My academic love for science and solving problems made becoming a physician a very natural fit.
Q: If you weren’t a physician, what would you be and why?
A: I honestly don’t know. Once I decided that I wanted to be a doctor, I never really considered anything else. I put all of my energy and focus into medicine.
Q: What are your hobbies/interests outside of work?
A: I like spending time with family and friends and traveling. I am also an avid Anaheim Ducks hockey fan.
Q: What have you learned from your patients?
A: Children are brave and have a remarkable capacity for resilience. This is evident in the child that sustains a broken leg playing soccer and is unafraid and eager to play again. Or the teenage cancer patient that is most concerned about how their family is being affected by and is dealing with their illness. My patients are humbling and help me to be a better person.
Q: What was the funniest thing a patient told you?
A: Kids say funny things all the time. One of my favorites was a little 4 year old girl that had ingested coins and they were stuck in her esophagus. When I asked her what happened she shrugged her shoulder and with a mischievous look in her eyes said, “I ate the money, I’m not supposed to eat the money.” Also recently a patient told me I looked like Snow White (which I don’t) and she called me Dr. Snow White the whole time I took care of her.