American Academy of Pediatrics unveils new guidelines for hospitalized adolescents

Adolescents between 11 and 20 years of age make up around 20 percent of pediatric hospital admissions in the U.S. and on top of that, 20 percent of children under 18 also are said to have a special healthcare need, which the American Academy of Pediatrics defines as "having or being at increased risk for chronic physical, developmental, behavioral or emotional conditions."

The increased needs for this population are the focus today of the AAP's newly released recommendations for physicians and medical professionals related to hospitalized adolescents. 

Though many healthcare systems try to align practices with patient needs as much as possible, issues like staffing shortages can sometimes get in the way. However, Steven Polega, RN, chief nursing officer with the University of Michigan Health-West in Wyoming, Mich., told Becker's that his perspective is that the AAP's increased focus on this will further "help empower our healthcare team members to be even more collaborative with adolescents and young adults."

"Hospitalized adolescents have unique and comprehensive needs that differ from those of younger patients and adults," an extensive report from several physicians and experts in pediatrics that was also released today noted. 

Among the many guidelines, the AAP recommends physicians and medical care staff prioritize centering care around the adolescent's confidentiality, incorporating anti-racist, anti-microaggression and implicit bias training. It also urges hospitals to incorporate activities, reading material, arts and music consistent with what adolescents would engage with in their own environments. 

"The recommendations that the AAP provides are comprehensive to meet the needs of this patient population," Mr. Polega told Becker's. "I would further like to highlight the importance of fostering independence with adolescents and speaking with them directly, as they are the decision-makers of their care. These interactions will lay the groundwork for their future relationships with their healthcare providers."

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