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    Frequently Asked Questions
    Pediatric Emergency Services

    What happens when I arrive at the Pediatric ED
    When you arrive at CPMC's Pediatric Emergency Department, the first person who will assess your child is the triage nurse. The nurse examines your child and asks you questions about your child’s illness or injury, as well as checks your child’s blood pressure, temperature and pulse.

    What does “triage” mean?
    The process of triage means “to sort.” Children who have a life-threatening illness or injury are always seen first. Children who are stable, but need treatment as soon as possible, will be seen in order of severity. This is why children are not always seen in the same order as they arrive. Every effort is made to keep waiting times to a minimum.

    Why can’t I give my child anything to eat or drink?
    If your child has anything to eat or drink, it can delay any needed procedures. If your child requires further testing or a procedure, it’s important for your child’s stomach to be empty. Please avoid eating or drinking in front of them.

    Who will be caring for my child?
    There is a team specially trained to care of ill and injured children:

    • physicians, many board-certified in both pediatrics and emergency medicine, will discuss diagnosis and treatment plans with you
    • Nurses provide ongoing assessments, help treat your child’s condition, collect specimens, and provide medication.
    • Social workers help with crisis support and counseling, information on community resources and referrals for follow-up care and services.
    • Child Life specialists provide emotional support to both children and families. By providing preparation for medical procedures and teaching coping skills, they help alleviate common stressors and anxieties related to being in the hospital.
    • Health care technicians assist physicians and nurses.
    • Chaplains are available to deliver spiritual and emotional support to children and families.

    What happens in the treatment area?
    Following triage, a nurse will bring you and your child into the treatment room to be seen by a physician. After the physician completes a medical screening exam, they will assess your child’s condition, discuss it with you, and make recommendations for the best course of treatment.

    How long will I have to wait?
    Waiting times in the treatment area can vary. If lab, X-rays or medications are needed, additional time is required to receive results.

    Can I be with my child?
    As a parent or caregiver, you may stay with your child. Part of Family Centered Care is encouraging parents to be a part of the health care team. Parents are given the option to be present for procedures and diagnostic testing.

    What happens when my child is finished?
    If the physician advises admission to the hospital, they will discuss this with you and make the necessary arrangements. If your child is discharged, your nurse will explain your instructions, any prescriptions, and when to receive follow-up care. If there is information that is unclear to you, please ask questions.

    Will my primary doctor know about my child’s visit?
    A copy of your child’s medical records is sent to your child’s primary care provider, including any lab or test results. The treating physician may also contact your child’s primary care provider by telephone.

    Why do you need my phone number?
    We may need to contact you with important lab or X-ray results. Please make sure we have your current contact number.

    What can I do to help my child?
    You are the best person to help your child feel comfortable and safe. Although it may be difficult at times, reassure your child by staying calm. Other tips include:

    • Give frequent hugs, and distract your child with stories, pictures or books.
    • Be patient with your child.
    • Help your child understand what is happening. Be honest to your child about what he or she can expect. Use age appropriate language that is easy to understand.
    • Allow your child to talk about worries or feelings. Remind your child that it’s okay to feel worried or cry, but help them talk about their feelings. Listen to your child and help them understand that their feelings are normal and reassure them that they have done nothing wrong.
    • Help your child see hospital staff as helpers. Remind your child that the staff has a lot of experience helping children feel better. Ask questions and encourage your child to ask questions so they can participate in their health care.

    To learn more about how your gift can help patients like Angie, visit

    California Pacific Medical Center

    California Pacific Medical Center, a San Francisco hospital that is part of the Sutter Health network, offers specialty pediatric care to babies, young children, and adolescents through age 18.

    Pediatric Specialty Services
    California Pacific Medical Center
    3700 California Street
    San Francisco, CA 94118
    Tel. 415-600-0770