For Healthcare Professionals: Emergency Services
Contact the Emergency Department or Emergency Services Administrative Offices
- For acute patient care information and/or patient referral/transport
- For administrative communications
About the Emergency Department
Seattle Children's Emergency Department (ED) is staffed 24 hours per day. We see approximately 40,000 children each year. About half of all children admitted to Seattle Children's are admitted through the ED.
Our new ED has increased capacity, larger patient rooms and improved staff visibility, teamwork and communication.
There is always an attending physician in the ED. During evenings and busy seasons, there may be as many as six attending physicians on duty in the ED.
Seattle Children's is a teaching hospital and physicians in training see many patients. However, all patients are seen by and treatment plans formulated in conjunction with an attending physician.
We also staff a section of the ED called Fast Track. Fast Track is used to expedite the care of children with lower-acuity conditions. All patients are initially seen by a nurse and assigned acuity scores prior to being seen in the ED. Patients with lower acuity scores may be seen by a Fast Track physician. Fast Track physicians are attending-level general pediatricians who also have experience working in the ED.
Model of care
We want to provide medical attention as soon as families arrive. Upon arrival, a registered nurse will quickly assess your patient's condition. Patients and families will be shown to an examination room right away in all but the busiest circumstances. During our busiest hours, a roving provider and nurse team can order tests and provide interventions and medication as needed if the primary care team is not immediately available to begin diagnosis and treatment. It is our goal to have our patients assessed by a licensed medical provider as soon as possible.
Communication with referring providers
We want to provide direct contact for you when you have questions and concerns about accessing and navigating our ED services. To do this, we offer:
- Pre-arrival communication center, outlined below
- Improved electronic medical records (EMR) and process to improve medical documentation
- Faxed ED discharge summary (PDF)
How to Access the Emergency Department and What to Expect
For healthcare professionals: Call 206-987-8899 or, toll-free, 866-987-8899
An experienced ED communications nurse will answer your call and document information regarding your patient. This information will become a permanent part of your patient's chart and will be available to ED care team members prior to and on your patient's arrival. Seattle Children's ED attending physicians are always available for consultation as necessary.
When you call, please provide us with:
- Your patient's name
- Age or date of birth
- A brief history of present illness and condition
- Potential isolation issues (respiratory or other)
- Any specific issues that you would like to have addressed during your patient's ED visit
- A number where we may reach you to update you on your patient's condition and to collaborate on a follow-up plan
- If you would like to attend on your patient if they are admitted to the hospital, or if you would like your patient to be placed under the care of one of our house attending physicians
The nurse will then ask for your patient's address and insurance information, expediting the care process upon their arrival.
Children with severe, multi-system trauma or head injury with significant concern for an acute intracranial hemorrhage may be referred to the ED at Harborview Medical Center at.
Seattle Children's ED can assist in making decisions about appropriate transport options for those patients requiring medical transport to Seattle Children's Hospital. Patients with significant respiratory symptoms, altered mental status or other potentially unstable conditions should be transferred in an ALS (Advanced Life Support ambulance) medical environment.
Families are encouraged to first contact their primary care provider for healthcare advice. Calls to the ED from patients and their families are welcomed for questions specifically related to a recent ED visit.
What Your Patient Should Bring
- A guardian or parent
- Immunization history, allergies and current medications
- Lab tests
- Past medical conditions and procedures
- Clinic notes
- Hard copies or digital files of any imaging studies from other facilities
NPO (Nil Per Os, Nothing by Mouth)
To ensure the timeliest and safest care for your patient, please re-emphasize that they should remain NPO if any of the following apply:
- If sedation for any painful or distressing procedure (laceration repair, possible fracture, foreign body removal) may be required
- If any surgical procedure is possible (acute abdomen, intestinal obstruction, esophageal or airway foreign body)
- Significant respiratory distress or critical illness
What to Expect When Your Patient Arrives
Upon arrival, your patient will be seen by a registered nurse. The nurse assesses their condition before a medication intake coordinator (an ED pharmacy technician, aka MIC) collects the patient's medication history and shows the patient and family to a room. Involving the nurse and MIC at the start of the process reduces potential delays and ensures accurate and up-to-date medication history at the beginning of treatment. Full registration will take place in the room after the primary care team sees the patient, eliminating another possible delay.
We strive to provide a multidisciplinary initial evaluation. The goal is for the team and the family to gather information and to develop a plan, putting it into action as early as possible, without having to repeat their story multiple times.
If a primary ED team is not available immediately to see a patient, an "early initiation" team consisting of a medical provider and a nurse will work with patients for the first part of their visit. Based on a uniform set of clinical standards, the early initiation team will decide whether to begin tests or provide interventions or medications before handing off care to the primary care team.
Nurses support specific ED geographic zones, allowing for optimal communication with patients and families as well as among the care team.
Your patient may be seen by a pediatric, family practice or emergency medicine resident, an ED ARNP, and/or a pediatric Emergency Medicine fellow. All patients are also seen by an ED attending physician.
Our staff strives to make the ED experience as pleasant as possible for patients and families. Services offered include:
- Family-centered care
- Private exam rooms that offer access to a TV connected to GetWell Town, an interactive media system.
- Social workers and child life specialists who work with children and families to make their stay less frightening
- Snacks, coffee and cold beverages.
Consults and specialty evaluations
After evaluation by an ED attending physician, consultation with Seattle Children's specialty services is available as indicated. The ED attending has overall responsibility for determining and monitoring what services are required for your patient.
Learn more about the Emergency Department.