Pediatric emergency department recognized for comprehensive care

Santa Clara County recognized Stanford’s pediatric emergency department for its ability to handle a broad spectrum of medical emergencies in young patients.

- By Erin Digitale

Stanford's pediatric emergency department has received the highest classification from Santa Clara County for treating young patients.
Kevin Meynell

Stanford Medicine’s pediatric emergency department was designated a Comprehensive Pediatric Receiving Center by Santa Clara County Emergency Medical Services.

The county is participating in a new statewide program to classify all of California’s emergency departments according to their ability to treat infants and children. The designations, which will enable first responders to direct young patients to the nearest facility capable of meeting their needs, took effect July 1.

“Whatever your child’s needs are, we at Stanford have the specialty personnel, training, child-specific equipment and wherewithal to offer any emergency medical service to the community,” said Bernard Dannenberg, MD, clinical professor of emergency medicine and of pediatrics, who along with Moon Lee, MD, led Stanford’s efforts to receive the classification. “That’s the overarching advantage of having such a comprehensive facility.”

The Comprehensive Pediatric Receiving Center designation is the highest of four levels of readiness for treating young patients. Once Stanford submitted an application for the designation, a team from the county visited the ED and verified that it is equipped and its personnel are trained to deal with a broad range of pediatric emergencies.

They determined, for example, that the hospital can treat rare but critical conditions such as pediatric stroke; is able to stabilize airways and provide pain management for even the smallest patients; and employs a wide range of specialists with pediatric expertise, including emergency physicians, surgeons, radiologists, anesthesiologists, nurses, pharmacists, child life specialists and respiratory therapists.

County officials also assessed the capabilities of Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford to admit critically ill patients from the emergency department into its pediatric and neonatal intensive care units. Stanford’s application highlighted that Stanford Health Care and Stanford Children’s Health are already jointly certified as a level 1 pediatric trauma center, the most advanced designation for caring for young patients with traumatic injuries. Stanford Health Care owns and operates the pediatric emergency department and cares for pediatric emergency patients in conjunction with Stanford Children’s Health.

A goal for the new classification system is to minimize the need for later patient transfers. “This is about getting the right patient to the right hospital,” Dannenberg said.

About Stanford Medicine

Stanford Medicine is an integrated academic health system comprising the Stanford School of Medicine and adult and pediatric health care delivery systems. Together, they harness the full potential of biomedicine through collaborative research, education and clinical care for patients. For more information, please visit

2023 ISSUE 3

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