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Say 'Aaah' | Monitor / HOSPITALS

Guidelines on How to Enable Emergency Rooms to Treat Kids

April 16, 2001|Jane E. Allen

When parents take a sick or injured child to the hospital emergency room, they may expect that the facility will have medical equipment properly sized for children's small bodies.

Yet that's not always the case. Sometimes, children must be transferred to another hospital that specializes in children's care. The extra time and hassle can make an already unsettling experience even more nerve-racking.

Now, two medical specialty societies have set new guidelines intended to enable all hospital emergency departments to provide at least initial treatment for the 20 million children who require emergency treatment each year.

The guidelines suggest that hospital emergency departments:

* Have both a physician coordinator and a nurse coordinator for pediatric emergency medicine.

* Require proper training of all health-care professionals to treat children of any age.

* Have emergency transportation, radiology services and laboratory services and equipment capable of serving children.

* Have specific pieces of equipment, medications and supplies for pediatric patients, such as blood pressure cuffs that can surround pint-sized arms, defibrillators with small paddles and small oxygen masks.

The guidelines, prepared by the American College of Emergency Physicians, the American Academy of Pediatrics and other health organizations, are published in the April issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

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