Robert Wilkinson, DO, is the Medical Director of the Pediatric Emergency Department (ED) at Summerlin Hospital.
What is your role in providing emergency care?
As medical director, I work with doctors and nurses to improve patient care and help ensure that we're providing high-quality treatment. I also work in shifts as the primary pediatric ED doctor, seeing kids from 0-18 years old. We deal with a lot of everyday coughs, cold and flu, as well as minor trauma, broken bones and lacerations.
How is a pediatric ED different from an adult ED?
The biggest difference is that the people in the pediatric ED have dedicated their training specifically to taking care of children. We have certified child life specialists who can teach kids about what to expect and help put them at ease if they're scared or preparing for a procedure. If needed, we have equipment designed just for pediatric use.
What is your background, and what do you enjoy about your job?
After graduating from medical school and completing my pediatric residency, I did a fellowship in pediatric emergency medicine (which involves additional in-depth training). I've been working at Summerlin Hospital for about two years. I really enjoy taking care of kids in the ED. You can help families in the most vulnerable and difficult times and really make a difference in their lives.
What if I'm not sure my child is having an emergency?
If you feel you have time, we recommend contacting your primary care physician first to see if it's something they can handle. However, we're open 24/7 and our job, aside from taking care of true emergencies, is reassuring people that what they have isn't an emergency. In my experience, parents know their children best. If their gut instinct tells them there is something wrong, we would be happy to see the child in the Emergency Department.
If you believe your child is experiencing a medical emergency, call 9-1-1 immediately.
In the case of a possible concussion, the ED team performs an examination and applies current research to determine whether a CT scan is needed. Some of the more concerning symptoms of a head injury include passing out, repetitive vomiting, any altered mental status, slurred speech, inability to walk, or, for small children, inability to do the things they normally do. "These would raise a red flag," Dr. Wilkinson says.