Many hospital ERs are not prepared to treat children: 4 findings

Many U.S. hospital emergency rooms are not prepared to take care of infants and children, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The report attributes this to the fact that many ERs lack the adequate equipment and have physicians and nurses who may not be specifically trained for pediatric care.

Here are four things to know about the issue.

1. Close to 90 percent of the 30 million children 18 years old and under who end up in ERs each year receive treatment at general community hospitals, which often don't have a pediatric unit, according to the report.

2. ER staff often don't have necessary emergency equipment, such as needles, catheters, breathing tubes and instruments designed and sized for different-aged children, and may not have a plan to deal with children in the event of a mass casualty incident or natural disaster, according to the report.

3. The Wall Street Journal points out that hospitals are improving emergency care for infants, citing a  national assessment of more than 4,000 U.S. hospitals' readiness for a pediatric emergency, published earlier this month in JAMA Pediatrics. The report found the median readiness score was 69 on a scale of 100, up from 55 in 2003. However, the authors pointed out that the review likely overestimated hospitals' readiness because it wasn't possible to verify what hospitals reported, according to the report.

4. A majority of hospitals reported that high costs for pediatric emergency care training is among the barriers they face to being better prepared, according to The Wall Street Journal.


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