Ouchless ED

Marin parents can rest assured that if their child needs to go to the Emergency Department (ED), MarinHealth Medical Center is equipped with the latest in pediatric care. Our Emergency Department offers three treatment rooms dedicated to pediatric patients, along with a 14-bed pediatric unit for children who need extended care. Still, there’s no denying a trip to the ED can be scary for both children and their parents. That’s why we have introduced an “ouchless” approach in our Emergency Department.

What Is an Ouchless ED?

In our Ouchless ED, we have established child-friendly protocols that help take the anxiety and pain out of visits:

Our Emergency Staff and physicians have been trained to see the ED through the eyes of a child by pediatric emergency specialists from UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital. Our staff communicates in a way that’s appropriate to a child’s age and level of maturity.

  • We practice distraction and sensitivity techniques to engage children and draw their focus away from their treatment.
  • Whenever possible, we use needle-free injections and shot blockers to reduce the pain of shots. If a child is going to need an injection or IV, we dab numbing medicine on the area first. Where appropriate, we give children medication through rapidly absorbed atomizers or nasal sprays rather than intravenously.
  • We encourage parents to participate in their child’s care. We can often treat younger children while they sit in the comfort of a parent’s lap.
  • We use interactive and educational toys to explain procedures to the child. If a child needs to wear a breathing treatment mask, we offer masks with animal faces to add playfulness and encourage patient compliance.

When Your Child Needs to Go to the ED

If your child has any of the symptoms or injuries listed below, don’t hesitate to go to our Emergency Department:

  • Difficulty breathing

  • Sudden clumsiness, loss of balance, or fainting
  • Severe pain, especially in the tummy and back area
  • Altered mental status or confusion, including suicidal thoughts
  • Sudden, severe headache
  • Sudden testicular pain and swelling
  • A fever of 100.4 or above in a baby under one month old
  • Sudden vision changes, including blurred or double vision and full or partial vision loss
  • Broken bones or dislocated joints
  • A large, open wound that won’t stop bleeding
  • Head or eye injuries
  • Severe flu or cold symptoms
  • Severe and persistent vomiting or diarrhea
  • Serious burns
  • Seizures without a previous diagnosis of epilepsy
  • Deep cuts that require stitches, especially on the face

Child Life Specialist

We have a certified child life specialist on staff in our ED. A certified child life specialist is clinically trained in the impact illness and injury can have on a child’s development and emotional well-being. They help infants, children, youth, and their families cope with the stress of serious illness, injury, trauma, disability, loss, and bereavement. They are trained in therapeutic play, preparation for procedures, and age-appropriate education to reduce fear, anxiety, and pain.

Listen as Michelle Tracy, RN, Director of Emergency & Trauma Services at MarinHealth Medical Center, discusses how our Ouchless ED provides a better experience for children and their families.