Efficient Treatment For Pediatric Emergencies and Trauma

Nearly 25 percent of all Emergency Department (ED) visits were made by children under the age of 18 and more of those emergency visits occur in the summer compared with the rest of the year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The pediatric ED at South Texas Health System Children's provides urgent care to children who have traumatic injury, major illnesses or other issues that require immediate treatment. The staff includes specially trained pediatric emergency physicians, nurses and other healthcare professionals who follow specific procedures so that your child gets the care he or she needs as quickly as possible.

Five Steps of Emergency Care

Sudden illness or injury can occur without warning — especially in children — and while no one typically plans a trip to the Emergency Department (ED), everyone should know what to expect after they arrive to help make the process a little easier. Explain what your child can expect in the ED (see the five steps below) and listen to his or her concerns. Let your child know it's okay to be afraid and to say something hurts. Be honest about how you're feeling, but remain calm so that your child doesn't become more anxious. It can also help to bring a favorite toy, blanket or book to the hospital to comfort your child.

When you and your child arrive at the ED, you can expect to go through the following five-step process:

Step 1 — Triage

Triage is the process of determining the severity of a patient’s condition. Patients with the most severe emergencies receive immediate treatment. That is why some patients may receive medical care before you, even if they arrived at the ED after you. When you arrive at the ED, emergency technicians determine the reason for your visit. A registered nurse will take your child's medical history and perform a brief examination of your child's symptoms.

The triage registered nurse might assign a priority level based on your child's medical history and current condition according to the following scale: Level 1 – Resuscitation (immediate life-saving intervention); Level 2 – Emergency; Level 3 – Urgent; Level 4 – Semi-urgent; Level 5 – Non-urgent. In some cases, an emergency registered nurse may start diagnostic testing to decrease the time spent waiting for medical treatment. Should your child's symptoms worsen as you wait, notify the emergency technician or triage nurse immediately.

Step 2 — Registration

The registration process is important for two reasons: it lets the ED staff gather information for your child's patient record and we obtain your consent for treatment. Both are necessary to order diagnostic tests that enable the physician to determine the best treatment option for your child. Both are necessary to order diagnostic tests to enable the physician determine the best treatment option for your child. Patient Access Specialists can conduct bedside registration for patients who have been taken directly to a treatment room.

Step 3 – Treatment

Every patient who comes to the ED at South Texas Health System Children's receives treatment from doctors and nurses who specialize in pediatric emergencies. Depending on your child's condition, a registered nurse may start an intravenous (IV) line. The IV line will allow the nursing staff to quickly administer medications or fluids that may be ordered by a physician. A nurse or technician may also take blood or urine samples, or they may send your child for an X-ray or other imaging test before a physician sees him or her. Physicians may also order blood tests on an urgent basis. Test results help emergency medicine physicians assess your child's condition. During treatment, the staff in the ED will help make sure you and your child are comfortable and informed.

Step 4 – Reevaluation

Your child's condition will be reevaluated after test results come back because the results may give the physician additional insight into the type of treatment your child needs. The staff may also contact your child's pediatrician for additional information. If your child does not have a pediatrician, we may refer you to an on-call pediatrician. After the reevaluation, the attending physician determines whether your child should be admitted to the hospital or treated and sent home.

Step 5 – Discharge

Part of our job is to keep your child healthy long after you’ve left the ED. All patients receive written home-care instructions to follow when discharged. The instructions describe how you can safely care for your child's wound or illness, directions for prescribed medications and recommendations for follow-up medical care. It is important to fully understand all instructions. If you have a question – let us know while you’re here. Or call 956-388-6900 once you and your child return home. Be sure to follow up with your child's pediatrician as well.