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Emergency and trauma services

We know having a sick child is scary and understanding where to go for care can be confusing. CHOC has two emergency departments, multiple urgent care sites and a network of primary care locations throughout Orange County. Learn which location is best for your child and what to expect before heading to the hospital.

Emergency and Trauma Services

If this is an emergency
Please call 911 immediately if your child needs immediate medical attention and you cannot safely transport your child to the hospital.

When your child has a medical emergency, we know you want the best pediatric care—and fast. CHOC has three pediatric emergency departments in Orange County for your convenience. All our emergency and trauma locations are kid-friendly, so you can have peace of mind and your child will feel at ease, too.

Why is CHOC’s pediatric emergency department different?

Children are not tiny adults and have very specific healthcare needs. From the equipment to the physicians to the staff, our pediatric emergency departments are designed to meet the needs of children of all ages.
  • We believe in patient- and family-centered care. That means whenever we are treating a child, his or her feelings, emotions and future well-being are a top priority.
  • It also means family members may stay with the child at all times while in the ED and help make decisions regarding the child’s care and treatment along the way.

What is child life?

When children arrive at the hospital, they are often crying, nervous or anxious. Often times, children fear what will happen once they are being treated. Our child life specialists help make the hospital experience less stressful and frightening. Their role is to make kids feel comfortable using special play techniques. Child life is a very important part of what makes CHOC one of the most unique hospital experiences.

How can they help my child?

Child life specialists also help patients understand how the medical team administers a care plan or treatment with special teaching tools. To help patients understand and prepare for their care, child life specialists use books, practice dolls, pictures and play medical equipment. During procedures, children can watch a movie on a tablet, play a game or engage in other fun activities.
Child life specialist blowing bubbles for young patient in hospital
Child life specialist plaing with smiling young boy in the playroom

Pediatric Emergency Department Frequently Asked Questions

Most parents, at some time, will face the decision of whether to bring their child to the emergency department (ED). It can be a scary and confusing situation for children and parents alike, but this list of frequently asked questions about ED visits might help settle confusion.

CHOC advises parents to follow their parental instincts. Your child should be taken to the ED if they are experiencing any of the following:

• Rapid and fast breathing
• Head trauma
• Trauma with loss of consciousness or vomiting
• Motor vehicle accidents
• Severe abdominal pain
• Dehydration.
• An infant less than 28 days old has a fever of 100.4 degrees or higher.

CHOC's emergency department treats a variety of ailments, big and small, from broken bones to small abrasions to headaches. No matter is too small, and no patient is turned away. Whether or not the child needs treatment, parents will leave the ED at CHOC with reassurance and education.

Read more: Where should I take my child for care based on their symptoms?
For any parent, the notion of rushing a child to an emergency department in an ambulance is terrifying. In a critical situation, parents want to get their child help as soon as possible at the closest emergency facility possible.

But should the right circumstances occur, parents can request which emergency department the ambulance will visit. Emergency transport teams will honor the request to the best of their ability.

If the child is suffering from critical illness or injury that requires absolute immediate attention, the medic team will take the child to the closest emergency department or trauma center.
CHOC does not require approval from a patient’s health care provider to offer care at the emergency department. However, families should consult with their insurance provider for more specific information regarding emergency care and coverage specifics.
The emergency department at CHOC is designed for fast triage, quick diagnosis and speedy treatment to streamline each visit, but it is difficult to estimate how long a visit will take. Many things factor into the length of an emergency room visit, including the type and severity of the child’s ailment, as well as the other patients visiting the ED that day.

Patients are generally seen in the order of their arrival, but children with serious illnesses or injuries may be seen first. In this case, you might notice patients who arrived after you being called ahead of you. Also, the ED physician who is treating your patient might be interrupted to respond to a sudden, critical emergency.

Please remain patient and calm during your visit. Know that the comfort of you and the child are a top concern for all of our ED staff at CHOC, and they are working hard to provide quality, efficient care to all patients they are privileged to serve.
“Triage” describes the process wherein a nurse assesses your child’s condition to determine what type of care he or she will need – and how quickly. Triage occurs after screening and initial registration. If there are rooms open, the child will be immediately taken to an exam room.

If all rooms are full, the emergency department has triage rooms, where a nurse will ask questions, collect vital information such as temperature, pulse and weight, and perform a basic exam.
Yes. There’s no need to worry about being away from your child at CHOC.
At CHOC, we are committed to making the entire family part of all decisions and treatments provided whenever possible. We even provide larger-than-average exam rooms in order to accommodate family members, siblings and strollers.

It is important to know, however, that there may be times that only parents will be allowed with the patient due to the urgency of care needs or in the case of certain tests, like X-rays. In general, parents should use good judgment when bringing siblings to the emergency department. Parents are encouraged to make childcare arrangements for smaller children and infants, especially during the flu season. A visit can be a long process, and small children might grow inpatient.

It is also important for parents to be able to focus on their ill child, as they will be given a lot of information and will be asked many questions by our staff.

Learn more about what you should bring to the emergency room.

Directions to CHOC ED Locations

Exterior view of CHOC Bill Holmes South Tower
Julia and George Argyros Emergency Department at CHOC Hospital

Building: Holmes Tower | 1201 W. La Veta Ave | Orange, CA 92868 | 714-509-9095

Exterior view of CHOC Children's Mission Hospital
Pediatric Emergency Department at CHOC at Mission Hospital

27700 Medical Center Rd. | Mission Viejo, CA 92691 | 949-364-1400

Location map of Emergency Dept in Laguna
Pediatric Emergency Department at CHOC at Mission Hospital, Laguna Beach

31872 Coast Hwy. | Laguna Beach, CA 92651 | 949-499-2002