When the smallest patients enter emergency departments across the country, does the staff have the equipment and training to treat them?
That’s what officials hope to determine this fall when they launch the National Pediatric Readiness Project.
The effort is a collaborative one involving the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP), the Emergency Nurses Association (ENA), and the Emergency Medical Services for Children (EMSC) Program.
The assessment, officials say, is based on the Guidelines for Care of Children in Emergency Department.
From time to time, officials have checked on the quality of pediatric care.
“The first effort that was done was published in advanced data in February 2006 by Kim Middleton and colleagues and what the Center for Disease Control did is they surveyed 839 non-federal short stay hospitals and this was part of the national hospital ambulatory medical care survey,” explained Dr.Elizabeth Edgerton, who moderated a recent webinar on the readiness project.
Edgerton, the Health Resources and Services Administration Branch Chief, Emergency Medical Services for Children (EMSC) and Injury Prevention, added: “It was felt that those hospitals pretty much represent as a sample the 4,800 hospitals in the United States with emergency departments. Their goal was to estimate the availability of emergency pediatric services expertise and supplies.”
Among the things they found was that 90 percent of hospitals without pediatric services transfer critically injured children.
“Overall the preparedness is low and from that previous study, we are looking toward improving that,” she said, adding that based on data, it would cost less than $5M for every hospital to have the appropriate pediatric equipment and would amount to about .18 per visit.
Dr. Kathy Shaw, chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics, said her organization embraces the project and its goal: “We all believe that every hospital emergency department should be fully prepared to care for ill or injured children.”
Also speaking in favor of the effort, and vowing to do what’s necessary to ensure the success, was the American College of Emergency Physicians.
“I want to let everyone know and let them be reassured that ACEP embraces this type of project where we can raise the bar for all emergency departments,” said Dr. Michael Geradi, MD, vice-president.
The National Pediatric Readiness Project will roll out in October and will involve 10 states. Hospitals in other states will be surveyed in phases through next spring.
Hospital officials will be able to fill out the comprehensive survey online.