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Children’s v/s Closest Emergency Department

I am often asked by parents whether children should be taken to the closest emergency department or possibly take a little more time in the car and come directly to the Children’s Emergency Department on WakeMed Raleigh Campus.  I expect as we open more freestanding emergency departments like North Healthplex and Apex Healthplex, that this question will only become more frequent.

The answer is actually pretty simple, and in less acute cases, may prevent a trip to the emergency department in the first place. 

1.       If your child is acutely ill or injured, and you believe it could be life-threatening call 9-1-1.  The paramedics can often stabilize your child onsite and can quickly determine which facility best suits your child’s needs. 

2.       If your child’s illness or injury is not life-threatening and you have some time to figure out which facility would be best, then it is my recommendation to call your pediatrician.  Pediatrician’s offices, including the health departments and WakeMed clinics, have someone taking call 24 hours a day 7 days a week. The advice nurse or physician can help you assess the best place to take your child should an ED visit seem necessary.  So, if an illness or injury is not life-threatening and you are trying to decide where to go, the best first move is to pick up the phone.

The reality is, most of the emergency physicians that staff WakeMed emergency departments rotate through all facilities, so you will be getting the same top-quality medical care regardless of the emergency department your pediatrician recommends.  The main difference is that the Children’s Emergency Department is designed exclusively for children and children are only admitted to the WakeMed main campus Children’s Hospital.

Courtney Mann, MD, is the medical director for WakeMed Children’s Emergency Department.