The adult patient in the pediatric emergency department

M. Douglas Baker, Gary R. Schwartz, Stephen Ludwig

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Study objective: To establish the frequency of use of pediatric emergency departments by adult patients and the spectrum of disease with which they present. Design: Prospective, descriptive study and unblinded survey. Setting: Children's Hospital pediatric ED. Type of participants: Seventy-two adult patients presenting to a pediatric ED during a two-year period and 31 pediatric emergency medicine fellowship directors. Interventions: For each patient, we recorded demographic information, chief complaint, interventions by physicians, diagnosis, condition, and disposition after initial care. Pediatric emergency medicine fellowship training program directors were surveyed by telephone regarding their experiences with adult patients and the extent of adult emergency medicine training within their programs. Main results: Of the 72 adult patients evaluated, one third (22) were treated for trauma and the remaining 50 for medical illness. More than 40 different diagnoses were encountered, including stroke and myocardial infarction. Twenty patients (27.8%) required hospitalization, four (5.6%) in intensive care settings. Of the 31 fellowship directors surveyed, 27 (87.1%) indicated that adult patients had been managed in their EDs during the previous year. All but one reported that their fellowship programs incorporated between one and four months of adult emergency medicine in their curricula. Conclusion: Adults frequently present to pediatric EDs for both minor and serious illnesses. Training in adult emergency medicine should be a part of all pediatric emergency medicine fellowship programs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1136-1139
Number of pages4
JournalAnnals of emergency medicine
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1993
Externally publishedYes


  • pediatric emergency medicine
  • training

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine


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