Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What do I do when I get to the Pediatric Emergency Department (ED)? What can I expect to happen?

  • Triage

    Follow the signs from the entrance and proceed to the triage nurse. The purpose of triage is to quickly assess your child's needs and begin planning his/her care.
    A nurse will ask you the reason for your visit and examine your child. From triage, you will typically go to the registration desk. However, if you are brought directly to an ED treatment room, a clerk will come to your child's bedside to register you.
  • Registration desk

    If you are asked to proceed to the registration desk, a clerk will ask you for the information needed for your child's chart and will have you sign consent for your child's treatment. After you register, you will be asked to take a seat in the waiting area.
  • Waiting area

    Listen for your name to be called. A nurse will bring you into the ED as soon as a room is available. If you think your child's condition has changed while you are waiting, please tell the triage nurse.
  • Examination

    Once in a patient care room, a team of nurses and doctors will examine and evaluate your child. They will ask questions that will help them assess and manage your child's care in the ED.
    Your child may need to have X-rays or blood tests or to see a specialist. Please understand that you may have to wait for these results. Our staff will try to make you and your child as comfortable as possible during your wait.
  • Extended care area

    There are times when it is important to monitor or treat your child for more than a few hours in our Emergency Department. In some cases, your child may be moved to the extended care area adjacent to our main ED. The ED attending physicians will still be responsible for your child's care in this area. If your child's medical condition necessitates a longer hospitalization, your child may at some point be admitted to North Carolina Children's Hospital as an inpatient and moved to an inpatient bed upstairs.
  • If your child is admitted

    Your doctor may decide that your child needs to stay in the hospital. In that case, your child will stay in the ED until (s)he is admitted as an inpatient and taken to a hospital room upstairs to be treated by a medical or surgical team.
  • If your child is discharged

    When your ED visit is over, we give you written instructions about your child's home treatment, medications and follow-up care. A list of 24-hour pharmacies is available at your request.

How long might I wait to see the doctor?

Children with life-threatening illnesses, such as those who are not breathing, are seen first. Other children are seen in the order in which they arrive. During certain hours of the day (usually evenings), children with less serious problems are sent to the Emergency Department's special urgent care area.

We try to see all patients as quickly as possible. Sometimes there are many patients, and our staff is busy caring for very ill children. At these times, the wait may be an hour or longer.

Who will see my child in the Emergency Department?

We will assign a specially trained nurse to care for your child. In addition, many of the ED doctors are training to be pediatricians or emergency specialists. An attending physician will head the medical team that diagnoses and treats your child. There is at least one board-certified pediatric emergency specialist in the ED at all times.

If you have any questions or concerns about your child's treatment, please ask your nurse or doctor.