LA BioMed researchers find few emergency rooms fully equipped for pediatric patients

December 03, 2007

TORRANCE (Dec. 3, 2007) - In the first survey to specifically measure hospital pediatric preparedness, a team of Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute (LA BioMed) researchers found few U.S. emergency rooms are properly equipped for children.

The survey by Drs. Marianne Gausche-Hill, Charles Schmitz and Roger J. Lewis was reported in the December issue of Pediatrics, the peer-reviewed journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics. The team of LA BioMed researchers found only 6 percent of the 1,489 emergency rooms that responded to the survey had all the medicine and equipment the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) recommend.

For instance, half of those responding reported that they were missing the laryngeal mask airways used for ventilating children.

"Seventeen percent of the hospitals that responded to the survey did not have Magill forceps for removing foreign bodies from a child's airway," said Dr. Gausche-Hill. "This equipment may be life-saving, so this study highlights important issues for patient safety."

The study found 89% of pediatric (ages: 0-14 years) emergency department visits occur in non-children's hospitals. About a fourth of these visits take place in rural or remote facilities. Only 6% occur in a separate pediatric emergency department.

More than half the emergency departments reported they had a quality improvement or performance improvement plan for pediatric patients, and 59 percent said they were aware of the American Academy of Pediatrics/American College of Emergency Physicians guidelines.

"Hospitals that were more prepared tended to be urban, to have higher volumes, to have a separate care area for pediatric patients, to have physician and nursing coordinators for pediatrics, to be aware of the AAP/ACEP guidelines, and to be interested in guideline implementation," the researchers concluded. "The study also demonstrates that much work is left to be done to improve pediatric preparedness of (Emergency Departments) EDs. Additional work should explore the relationship of preparedness to quality of care delivered, delineate barriers to guideline implementation, and identify best practices that can be coordinated within emergency care systems to improve the preparedness of EDs to care for children.
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Pediatrics is the official, peer-reviewed journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics. It may be viewed at http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/. A copy of the study may be obtained by emailing Lmecoy@issuesmanagement.com.

About LA BioMed

Founded more than 55 years ago, LA BioMed conducts biomedical research, trains young scientists and provides community services, including childhood immunization, nutrition assistance and anti-gang violence programs. The institute's researchers conduct studies in such areas as cardio-vascular disease, emerging infections, cancer, diabetes, kidney disease, dermatology, reproductive health, vaccine development, respiratory disorders, inherited illnesses and neonatology.

LA BioMed researchers have invented the modern cholesterol test, the thyroid deficiency test and a test to determine the carriers of Tay-Sachs disease, an inherited fatal disorder. One of the institute's researchers also developed the paramedic model for emergency care, setting a precedent that transformed emergency medical services and became the basis for training paramedics across the country.

Among LA BioMed's current research programs are a major effort to develop the next generation of antibiotics, new therapeutic and diagnostic approaches to lung disease, refining methods for earlier identification of Type II diabetes, studies in the relationship between cardiovascular and kidney diseases, development of enhanced breast cancer detection technology and a novel approach to treating several autoimmune diseases and certain solid tumors.

LA BioMed is an independent research institute that is academically affiliated with the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles. The institute is located on the campus of Harbor-UCLA Medical Center near Torrance. The institute has become an economic engine for the South Bay, pumping an additional $155 million into the local economy in 2005, according to a 2007 Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation report. It contributes to Los Angeles County's economic viability while inventing the future of health care through its ground-breaking research, its training of the scientists of tomorrow and its service to the local community. Please visit our website at www.LABioMed.org

LA BioMed

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