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Many Children Lack Quick Access to Trauma Center

More than 17 million American children can't get to pediatric trauma center within 60 minutes

TUESDAY, June 2 (HealthDay News) -- Millions of children in the United States, particularly those in sparsely populated areas, lack prompt access to pediatric trauma centers (PTCs), according to research published in the June Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

Michael L. Nance, M.D., of the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, and colleagues consulted several sources to create a list of 170 verified PTCs in 40 states and the District of Columbia.

The researchers found that an estimated 71.5 percent of pediatric patients under the age of 15 years were located within a 60-minute trip of a PTC by ground or air transportation; when only ground transportation was considered, this number dropped to 42.6 percent. This left roughly 17.4 million children without access to a PTC within 60 minutes. Such centers were conspicuously absent in the southwestern and upper western states. Only 22.9 percent of children in the least population-dense areas had 60-minute access to a PTC, the authors note.

"The availability of pediatric intensive care unit beds has been correlated with a significant reduction in trauma-related mortality. The lack of pediatric-specific personnel and equipment at adult institutions caring for pediatric emergency patients has been documented. Despite these published findings, most pediatric trauma care (including children with severe injuries) is rendered at non-PTCs," the authors conclude.

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