Summer 2013

Raising the Bar for Pediatric Emergency Care

Dr. Christine Cho

Dr. Christine Cho

For a child, the emergency room can be a frightening place, and that fear can work against efficient care and quality outcomes. Christine Cho, MD, thinks there is a better way, as exemplified by the new Pediatric Emergency Department (ED) at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital.

Dedicated Space, Dedicated Staff

The interim chief and clinical director of the Division of Pediatric Emergency Medicine at UCSF, Cho says that an important element of pediatric emergency care is providing a child-sensitive triage process and physical space entirely separate from adult patients.

At UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital, the new Pediatric Emergency Department :

  • Is open 24/7
  • Has dedicated child-friendly triage, as well as a waiting area with toys and games, and examination rooms separate from those for adults
  • Is fully staffed by clinicians with training in pediatric emergency medicine, including:
    • An additional, specially trained pediatric emergency medicine physician during peak hours of pediatric patient traffic
    • Pediatric emergency nurses on duty around the clock

The benefits of this setup include reduced stress for patients and families, which makes it faster and easier to complete diagnostic tests and necessary procedures.

"We aim to shorten wait times by eliminating redundancies. For example, when possible, patients will be triaged directly in their examination room by their treatment nurse," says Cho. "Patients also have access to the full range of subspecialists, as needed, as well as to a child life specialist dedicated to the ED."

In addition, for minor medical needs that aren’t considered emergencies, UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital offers an online service, called InQuicker, that allows parents to choose an available time for their child to be seen, wait in the comfort of home and arrive at the hospital at the scheduled time.

Closer Collaboration Eases Transitional Care

Another important component for the highest-quality pediatric emergency care, says Cho, is enhanced collaboration with referring physicians. Collaboration should embrace the full range of conditions, from fever to trauma (such as a broken arm or head trauma) to children with complex medical problems.

"We've redoubled our efforts to keep in close touch [with referring physicians], because we believe it can improve the care we deliver and improve the quality of transitional care," says Cho.

In the emergency department, she says, referring physicians can provide important clinical context for why the child is there. "And at discharge, it’s important to have a clear communication about what happened — that type of strong consultation with the referring physician is an important service for the child and the family," says Cho.

All of this is part of a more sensitive, patient-driven approach that Cho believes is essential for the next generation of pediatric emergency care.

For more information, contact Dr. Cho at [email protected]


Summer 2013 Table of Contents

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