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U.S. Emergency Departments Lack Pediatric Preparedness

Most emergency departments do not have all recommended equipment and supplies, survey finds

FRIDAY, Dec. 7 (HealthDay News) -- The pediatric preparedness of U.S. hospital emergency departments is only average and is in much need of improvement, according to a report published in the December issue of Pediatrics.

Marianne Gausche-Hill, M.D., of the Harbor-University of California, Los Angeles Medical Center in Torrance, Calif., and colleagues mailed a closed-response survey based on the American Academy of Pediatrics/American College of Emergency Physicians' joint policy statement, "Care of Children in the Emergency Department: Guidelines for Preparedness," to 5,144 emergency department medical and nursing directors and ranked each emergency department on a 0-100 scale of weighted preparedness.

Using 1,489 completed surveys, the researchers calculated a median pediatric-preparedness score of 55 for all emergency departments, with scores tending to be higher among facilities with higher pediatric volume, those with physician and nursing coordinators for pediatrics, and respondents who reported awareness of the guidelines. The investigators found that only 6 percent of emergency departments had all recommended equipment and supplies, and that only 50 percent had laryngeal mask airways for children.

"Additional work should explore the relationship of preparedness to quality of care delivered, delineate barriers to guideline implementation, and identify best practices that can be coordinated within emergency care systems to improve the preparedness of emergency departments to care for children," the authors conclude.

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