Visiting the Emergency Room

You can't know when your child might have a medical emergency, but you can educate yourself about what to expect if the situation does arise.

If you think your child has a life-threatening condition, always call 911 first.

If you think someone is poisoned, call the Central Ohio Poison Center at (800) 222-1222.

Emergency and Trauma Care

Nationwide Children’s Hospital provides comprehensive emergency and trauma care. Our Main Campus pediatric emergency department is the nation's third busiest, according to data from the National Association of Children's Hospitals and Related Institutions.

Our emergency departments are staffed 24 hours a day by board-certified/eligible pediatric emergency medicine sub-specialists. The emergency departments provide expertise in:

  • Pediatric advanced life support
  • Resuscitation
  • Evaluation and treatment in all areas for acute medical and surgical conditions

Services include:

  • A Level I Pediatric Trauma Center
  • A Pediatric Emergency Department

Emergency Conditions

Take your child to the emergency room at Nationwide Children’s Hospital Main Campus or the Lewis Center Close To Home for treatment of these conditions:

  • Broken bones
  • Burns
  • Difficulty breathing/respiratory distress
  • Fever (especially in infants eight weeks of age or younger)
  • Seizure
  • Severe pain

Both emergency departments are staffed and prepared to treat and stabilize any emergency situation. However, in certain situations, it is best to take your child to the Nationwide Children’s Main Campus Emergency Department, where specialists and inpatient resources are more readily available. If your child is stable, go to the main campus emergency room for these situations:

  • Patients who will most likely need admission to the hospital
  • Major trauma/injuries
  • Injuries following a motor vehicle accident, being struck by a vehicle or fall from a height
  • Concerns for illness or injury from abuse or assault

If your child is in a psychiatric emergency, please call your county psychiatric crisis line or current behavioral health care provider for help in determining what response is best. Call 911 if you are concerned about your child’s immediate safety.

Psychiatric Crisis

For crisis situations that are not life-threatening, mental health and substance abuse crisis services for Franklin County, Ohio, residents are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

  • Youth and adolescents 17 and under should call (614) 722-1800.
  • Ages 18 and older should call (614) 276-CARE (2273).
  • For people living outside Franklin County, please call your county’s psychiatric crisis line number.

Youth and families already linked with a behavioral health professional should contact them first or crisis line provided by your health care professional.

Providers and Families:  It is recommended you call the crisis line before coming to Nationwide Children’s Emergency Department if possible. The Franklin County Psychiatric Crisis Line is staffed by licensed providers who can help you develop a plan of action and identify needed resources.

Call 911 if you are concerned about your child’s immediate safety. You can also call a 24-hour crisis intervention hotline for help.

  • Franklin County: For ages 17 & under: (614) 722-1800. For ages 18 & older: (614) 276-CARE (2273) 
  • Delaware County: (800) 684-2324
  • Fairfield County: (740) 687-8255
  • Licking County: (800) 544-1601
  • Madison County: (740) 852-6256
  • Pickaway County: (740) 477-2579
  • Union County: (800) 731-5577

Know What to Expect: Family Centered Care

At Nationwide Children's, we practice and promote “Family Presence” during invasive procedures and resuscitative situations. This is a philosophy that supports the family as a constant in the patient's life. This practice recognizes and incorporates the strengths and coping strategies of the family in the child's care.

We work with emergency management personnel to start family presence in the field. Many EMS agencies allow parents to:

  • Ride in the ambulance with their child
  • Fly with their child in the helicopter during air transport when appropriate

Once your child arrives in the emergency department, you will be greeted by a family support person. This support person remains with you and your family at all times and is specifically assigned to:

  • Initiate interventions to assist you and your family
  • Act as a liaison between the medical staff and you and your family
  • Provide emotional and psychosocial support
  • Be a shoulder to lean upon

You will be brought to your child's bedside as soon as possible. Parents are never forced to enter the trauma room, but you will be offered the option to be with your child. You will not be in the way and you are welcome in the room.

If you decide to be with your child in the trauma room, your support person will tell the care team who will be in the room. It is important that the medical care team knows who is in the room and that the line of communication remains open.

Consent for Treatment

Every child who comes to Nationwide Children’s for medical treatment needs a signed consent for treatment form on file. If a parent or legal guardian cannot bring a child to the hospital, they must authorize another adult to sign the consent to treat form.

The consent form allows you to name someone over the age of 18 to seek medical treatment and sign consent for the child. This could be a babysitter, teacher or other family member.

Anyone caring for your child in your absence should have a completed authorization form in case your child needs medical attention while you are away.

Security Screenings at the Main Campus Emergency Department

At Nationwide Children’s Hospital, patients, families and visitors to the Main Campus Emergency Department are screened by our security officers before to entering the emergency department.

Here's what to expect:

  • Each individual will pass through our metal detector (this is similar to the airport, but faster).
  • Officers will inspect all bags for items that could be used as a weapon (pocket knives, multi-tools, etc.)
  • If you come to the emergency department by ambulance, a security officer may screen you with a hand wand or ask you to come to the metal detector.
  • Security officers are trained to identify critical patients and to speed-up their admittance; often using a hand wand in these situations.

Our goal is to identify and remove items that could be used as weapons. We appreciate your patience and help in creating the safest surroundings for our patients and families. If security officers remove any of your items, they will be held during your stay. You can pick the items up when you leave. Due to a lack of storage space, items are held for seven days and then they are discarded.

When to Use Urgent Care

If you are unsure where to take your child for treatment, call your child’s pediatrician or family doctor before going to the emergency department or urgent care center – unless your child is experiencing a medical emergency.

Your child's doctor knows your child best and is the least expensive option for care. Emergency room and urgent care visits are more expensive options and should only be used as needed.

Nationwide Children's Urgent Care centers provide treatment for illnesses and injuries that need immediate attention, but do not need to be seen in the emergency department. Our Urgent Care facilities work with the emergency departments to make sure each child receives the best care.

Treatment for the following conditions is provided at Nationwide Children’s Urgent Care centers:

  • Allergic reactions
  • Asthma/difficulty breathing
  • Small broken bones (service not provided at Main Campus Urgent Care)
  • Minor/small burns
  • Minor/small cuts (service not provided at Main Campus Urgent Care)
  • Fever
  • Rashes
  • Sore throat
  • Vomiting and diarrhea

Patient Photos

Nationwide Children’s Hospital is adding patient photographs to our electronic medical record as an additional form of patient identification and an extra layer of patient safety. Your child's photo may be taken during a:

  • Clinic visit
  • Urgent Care visit
  • Emergency Department visit
  • Inpatient admission

If your child is between the ages of 6 months and 6 years, his or her photo should be updated every six months. For patients 6 years or older, the photo should be updated each year.