Theresa Frey, MD

  • Attending Physician, Emergency Department
As a pediatric emergency medicine doctor, I appreciate it when parents and family members support, encourage and advocate for their children despite the circumstances. I always welcome a family’s questions or challenges because I know their attention reflects how much they care for their child.



I believe it’s my responsibility as a doctor to decipher the unique characteristics of my patients. Information about each patient’s past experiences, family situations, social support and current stressors helps me create the best treatment plan. I recognize the significant value in standardizing certain aspects of clinical care. However, I think patients also benefit from a personalized approach.

As a pediatric emergency medicine doctor, I appreciate it when parents and family members support, encourage and advocate for their children despite the circumstances. I always welcome a family’s questions or challenges because I know their attention reflects how much they care for their child. I know that being a parent is difficult and stressful. I know that being a child or a teenager is difficult and stressful. Parents who try to do whatever they can for their child, and patients who want to learn, grow and improve, motivate me to constantly learn and improve as a physician.

My special interests within emergency medicine include:

  • Pain management and sedation in the emergency setting
  • Resuscitation and management of critically ill patients in the pediatric emergency department

My love of science and math and my experiences as a patient after a few high school injuries inspired me to become a doctor. My passion for supporting children and adolescents who do not have adult figures advocating and providing for them as I did, pushed me to become a pediatrician. I also want to impact a patient’s life early on, to help them avoid poor outcomes or difficult lifelong health and social issues.

After my pediatric training, I spent three years as a pediatric hospitalist. Emergency medicine drew my interest with the fast-paced environment, the continual unknown of what a hospital shift would bring, the variety of patient medical awareness, and the hands-on nature of the emergency department.

My research focuses on inadequate pain relief and management for children in the emergency department. Pain, especially in young children, is often under-recognized and undertreated. The current opioid abuse epidemic makes decision-making around pain medication dosage and analgesia even more difficult. I believe we should identify opioid alternatives and consider them in creating optimal pain management plans for patients while at the hospital and when they return home. We’ve achieved significant advances in emergency pain and sedation. However, more investigation is needed to relieve pain in children in the emergency setting. To be effective, these treatments must be delivered in the most efficient manner, with the least adverse effects.

I am honored to be a recipient of the Ken Graff Young Investigator Award from the American Academy of Pediatrics, Section on Emergency Medicine, for my research while a fellow at Cincinnati Children’s. My work was later published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Pediatrics in 2019. The award funds research that addresses issues pertinent to the acutely ill or injured child. Ken Graff was a talented pediatric emergency physician and promising investigator who died as a result of a tragic accident in 1995. This award promotes and supports young investigators in their pursuit of quality pediatric emergency medicine research.

When I’m not at work, I go scuba diving. Now with several scuba certifications, I can't believe I didn’t pursue this hobby sooner. I feel like I’ve found my happy place at the bottom of the ocean. I also grew up playing the piano and have a passion for music. I enjoy most musical genres and I’m always up for attending any live music event.


Poorly Controlled Pediatric Fracture Pain Requiring Unplanned Medical Assistance or Advice. Kopp, TM; Frey, TM; Zakrajsek, M; Nystrom, J; Koutsounadis, GN; Falcone, KS; Zhang, Y; Wall, E; Byczkowski, T; Mittiga, MR. Pediatric Emergency Care. 2022; 38:e410-e416.

Adherence with an Acute Agitation Algorithm and Subsequent Restraint Use. Jenkins, M; Barrett, MC; Frey, T; Bouvay, K; Barzman, D; Kurowski, EM. Psychiatric Quarterly. 2021; 92:851-862.

The impact of public health interventions on critical illness in the pediatric emergency department during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. Dean, P; Zhang, Y; Frey, M; Shah, A; Edmunds, K; Boyd, S; Schwartz, H; Frey, T; Stalets, E; Schaffzin, J; et al. Journal of the American College of Emergency Physicians Open. 2020; 1:1542-1551.

Improving Communication With Families for Evaluation of Child Abuse. Riney, L; Frey, T; Fain, E; Duma, E; Chambers, P. Journal of Patient Experience. 2020; 7:827-829.

Procedures. Frey, T; Mittiga, M. In: Shaw KN; Bachur RG, Ed. Fleisher & Ludwig's Textbook of Pediatric Emergency Medicine. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2020.

Tracheostomy Complications. Frey, T; Mittiga, MR. In: Hoffman RJ; Wang VJ, Ed. 5 Minute Pediatric Emergency Medicine Consult. Baltimore, MD: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2019.

Effect of Intranasal Ketamine vs Fentanyl on Pain Reduction for Extremity Injuries in Children: The PRIME Randomized Clinical Trial. Frey, TM; Florin, TA; Caruso, M; Zhang, N; Zhang, Y; Mittiga, MR. JAMA Pediatrics. 2019; 173:140-146.

Standardizing the Evaluation of Nonaccidental Trauma in a Large Pediatric Emergency Department. Riney, LC; Frey, TM; Fain, ET; Duma, EM; Bennett, BL; Kurowski, EM. Pediatrics. 2018; 141.

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