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Most ERs Not Fully Prepared for Pediatric Patients
Date:12/3/2007

Only 6 percent had all the recommended equipment, survey finds

MONDAY, Dec. 3 (HealthDay News) -- Parents who find themselves rushing a child to the nearest emergency room might want to keep a new finding in mind: Only 6 percent of emergency rooms in the United States have all the equipment they should have on hand to treat youngsters.

Many hospitals declined to respond to the survey, however, so the UCLA researchers suspect the true number of centers that don't meet recommendations might be even lower.

Among other deficiencies, hospitals failed to have a variety of devices geared toward infants and newborn babies, according to the survey, which is published in the December issue of Pediatrics.

The survey doesn't address the issue of whether hospitals with less appropriate equipment provide substandard services to kids, noted Dr. Karen Sheehan, medical director of Injury Prevention and Research at Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago. "But if you don't have equipment small enough for a child, it is not a big leap to think this may affect a child's care."

Surveys were sent in 2003 to 5,144 emergency rooms around the United States, asking about what equipment was geared toward the proper treatment of children. The researchers wanted to know if the hospitals were following 2001 guidelines regarding pediatric care that were released by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Emergency Physicians.

According to the study, only 11 percent of emergency room visits by kids occur in hospitals specifically designed to treat children. The rest end up in regular emergency rooms.

The emergency rooms contacted by the researchers only returned 1,489 surveys, a response rate of 29 percent. Officials at 59 percent of the emergency room departments that responded said they were aware of the 2001 guidelines, but many didn't follow them completely.

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