Nav: Home

Studies examine pediatric services in US emergency departments

December 20, 2018

Three papers from research teams led by a Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) physician examine the current readiness of U.S. emergency departments (EDs) to care for children and describe an initiative that led to the appointment of a Pediatric Emergency Care Coordinator (PECC) - a step considered the single best intervention to improve pediatric emergency care - in all Massachusetts EDs. The three reports appear in the December issue of Academic Emergency Medicine.

"According to the 2007 Institute of Medicine (IOM) report on pediatric emergency care, not all EDs are prepared to adequately care for children. Many lack essential supplies for managing pediatric emergencies, and treatment patterns can vary widely across providers," says Carlos Camargo, MD, DrPH, of the MGH Department of Emergency Medicine, corresponding author of all three papers. "Our three papers describe the national ED landscape and provide new information about potential approaches to improving pediatric emergency care."

All three papers are based on data from the annual National Emergency Department Inventory (NEDI)-USA survey, sent to the directors of the 5,273 non-federal, non-specialty U.S. EDs open in 2015 and the 5,375 U.S. EDs open in 2016.

Pediatric areas in emergency departments

The 2015 survey asked whether each ED included a separate pediatric area, and only 426 (10 percent) of the 4,407 responding general EDs - those that treat both adults and children - indicated having such an area. Pediatric areas were most commonly reported in larger EDs in the Northeast or the South; and while 66 percent of general EDs with pediatric areas reported having at least one PECC, only 11 percent of general EDs without a pediatric area had at least one PECC.

In 2017, a second survey was sent to 130 of the EDs that indicated having a pediatric area in their response to the 2015 survey, asking specific questions about the structure and staffing of these areas. Of 105 responding EDs, 11 indicated they did not actually have a pediatric area, which the authors note points to the need for better definition of a pediatric ED area. Of those with a pediatric area, 93 percent reported having designated beds for pediatric patients, and 74 percent reported having at least one pediatric emergency physician on staff.

Pediatric emergency telemedicine services

A second study began with questions on the 2016 NEDI-USA survey regarding whether EDs received pediatric telemedicine services. Telemedicine allows clinicians in one ED - often with limited facilities and services - to consult with specialists at another ED or hospital who may assist with diagnosis, recommend treatment or facilitate transfers. Provision of pediatric critical care telemedicine to rural hospital EDs has been associated with higher physician-rated quality of care and a reduced risk of medication errors. The 337 EDs (8 percent of all) that indicated receiving pediatric telemedicine services during 2016 were less likely to be in urban areas, and more than half were in critical access hospitals - small, rural hospitals deemed essential providers for their communities.

Of the EDs that received pediatric telemedicine in 2016, 130 were sent a follow-up survey regarding their use of telemedicine. Challenges to the use of pediatric telemedicine indicated in their responses included concerns about the process - such as interrupting providers' workflow - and the technology. A frequently cited obstacle was the need to remind staff members that telemedicine was an available resource for pediatric care. The authors note that the fact that EDs using pediatric telemedicine tended not to have either a pediatric emergency physician or a pediatrician assigned to the ED suggested that telemedicine was being used to fill a gap in pediatric ED services.

Increasing the appointment of Pediatric Emergency Care Coordinators

Pediatric Emergency Care Coordinators (PECCs) are health professionals - physicians, nurses or others - who manage pediatric care in their EDs and help to educate their colleagues on emergency care for children. Although the 2007 IOM report included appointment of a PECC among its key recommendations, less than 20 percent of EDs responding to the 2015 and 2016 NEDI-USA surveys reported having a PECC. In light of that information and the fact that many EDs have limited resources for pediatric care, Camargo and colleagues from the MGH, Boston Medical Center and Floating Hospital for Children/Tufts Medical Center initiated a grassroots intervention to encourage appointment of at least one PECC in every ED in Massachusetts.

With the endorsement of the Massachusetts College of Emergency Physicians, from 2017 to 2018 the team contacted the directors of all 73 EDs in the state. Initial emails were followed up with phone calls addressing both the IoM report and efforts of the National Pediatric Readiness Project to improve pediatric emergency care. Acknowledging that most general EDs may not have the funds required to support even a part-time PECC, team members advocated identifying at least one staff member who could volunteer two to four hours a month to improving pediatric care in their ED.

As a result of this intervention, the percentage of EDs with an appointed PECC increased from around 30 percent in 2016, to 85 percent in 2017, and 100 percent in 2018 - making Massachusetts the first state with assigned PECCs in all EDs. While most newly-assigned PECCs spend from one to fours hours a month in that role, the paper's authors indicate that many improvements to pediatric emergency care can be made without substantial resources or time. The team also created the MassPediatricToolkit website, which offers educational and other information to support PECCs throughout the state.

"We believe an intervention like this one could have similar results elsewhere, and we have started to replicate the project in a few volunteer states," says Camargo. "Although each state is different, we estimate that around 10 states will have PECCs in at least 80 percent of their EDs by the end of 2019. While the impact of PECCs on actual clinical outcomes requires further study, we are confident that even having a volunteer professional focusing on improving pediatric emergency care is better than not having anyone doing so."

A professor of Emergency Medicine at Harvard Medical School, Camargo adds, "Anyone can quickly find the distance and directions from their current location - or a searched location - to the closest EDs by using the publicly available EMNet findERnow smartphone app, which is available for both iPhone and Android phones. We just updated the app to provide the option of sorting the closest EDs by current driving time - including traffic! With a 99-cent subscription to the pediatric version, app users can also quickly see whether their ED has a pediatric area or a PECC." All three studies were supported by a grant from the R Baby Foundation.
-end-
The lead author of the paper on the presence of pediatric areas in U.S. EDs is Alexandra Camargo of Stanford University and the MGH Department of Emergency Medicine. Co-authors are Krislyn Boggs, MPH, Ashley Sullivan, MS, MPH, and Janice Espinola, MPH, MGH Emergency Medicine; Rachel Freid, MPH, Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH); and Marc Auerbach, MD, MSc, Yale University School of Medicine. The lead author of the study on pediatric telemedicine is Monica Brova, MPH, MGH Emergency Medicine and BUSPH. Co-authors are Boggs, Kori Zachrison, MD, MSc, Sullivan and Espinola, MGH Emergency Medicine; Freid of BUSPH; and Tehnaz Boyle, MD, PhD, Boston Medical Center. Co-authors of the report on the PECC intervention are Boggs and Sullivan, MGH Emergency Medicine; Camilo Gutierrez, MD, Boston Medical Center; and Emory Petrack, MD, Floating Hospital/Tufts Medical Center.

Massachusetts General Hospital, founded in 1811, is the original and largest teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School. The MGH Research Institute (http://www.massgeneral.org/research/about/RI-welcome.aspx) conducts the largest hospital-based research program in the nation, with an annual research budget of more than $900 million and major research centers in HIV/AIDS, cardiovascular research, cancer, computational and integrative biology, cutaneous biology, genomic medicine, medical imaging, neurodegenerative disorders, regenerative medicine, reproductive biology, systems biology, photomedicine and transplantation biology. The MGH topped the 2015 Nature Index list of health care organizations publishing in leading scientific journals and earned the prestigious 2015 Foster G. McGaw Prize for Excellence in Community Service. In August 2018 the MGH was once again named to the Honor Roll in the U.S. News & World Report list of "America's Best Hospitals."

Massachusetts General Hospital

Related Telemedicine Articles:

New toolkit provides rapid implementation guide for adopting telemedicine during COVID-19
A urology group in North Carolina developed a guide that enabled them to convert all in-person visits to telemedicine in three days.
Telemedicine transforms response to COVID-19 pandemic in disease epicenter
A rapid increase in 'virtual' visits during the COVID-19 pandemic could transform the way physicians provide care in the United States going forward, according to a new study led by researchers from NYU Grossman School of Medicine.
COVID-19 crisis as catalyst for telemedicine for chronic neurological disorders
The reasons for and reality of a rapid advance toward telemedicine in neurology during the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic is described in this Viewpoint article.
Telemedicine reduces mental health burden of COVID-19
Telemental health services are a practical and feasible way to support patients, family members, and healthcare providers who may experience psychological side-effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, including anxiety, fear, depression, and the impact of long-term isolation.
Telemedicine helps pregnant women tackle taboo issue
Getting pregnant while on opioids is a serious concern. Research by Medical University of South Carolina investigators reported in JAMA Network Open could ensure more women get the right help via telemedicine.
Allergy patients equally satisfied with telemedicine and in-person appointments
A new study being presented at the ACAAI Annual Scientific Meeting in Houston showed most parents of pediatric patients were more or equally satisfied with the treatment their children received during telemedicine visits for allergies and asthma.
Cognitive behavioral therapy delivered by telemedicine is effective for insomnia
Preliminary findings from two analyses of an ongoing study suggest that cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia delivered by telemedicine is as effective as face-to-face delivery.
Pediatric telemedicine visits may increase antibiotic overprescribing
Children with acute respiratory infections were prescribed antibiotics more often during direct-to-consumer telemedicine visits than during in-person primary care appointments or urgent care visits, according to UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh research reported today in Pediatrics.
In the February Health Affairs: Telemedicine in Latin America
With doctors unevenly distributed across Latin American countries and concentrated in urban areas, patients in rural and marginal suburban areas often have limited access to both primary care physicians and specialists.
Telemedicine use increases but still uncommon
Laws passed in 32 states promote the use of telemedicine by mandating coverage and reimbursement.
More Telemedicine News and Telemedicine Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Our Relationship With Water
We need water to live. But with rising seas and so many lacking clean water – water is in crisis and so are we. This hour, TED speakers explore ideas around restoring our relationship with water. Guests on the show include legal scholar Kelsey Leonard, artist LaToya Ruby Frazier, and community organizer Colette Pichon Battle.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#568 Poker Face Psychology
Anyone who's seen pop culture depictions of poker might think statistics and math is the only way to get ahead. But no, there's psychology too. Author Maria Konnikova took her Ph.D. in psychology to the poker table, and turned out to be good. So good, she went pro in poker, and learned all about her own biases on the way. We're talking about her new book "The Biggest Bluff: How I Learned to Pay Attention, Master Myself, and Win".
Now Playing: Radiolab

Uncounted
First things first: our very own Latif Nasser has an exciting new show on Netflix. He talks to Jad about the hidden forces of the world that connect us all. Then, with an eye on the upcoming election, we take a look back: at two pieces from More Perfect Season 3 about Constitutional amendments that determine who gets to vote. Former Radiolab producer Julia Longoria takes us to Washington, D.C. The capital is at the heart of our democracy, but it's not a state, and it wasn't until the 23rd Amendment that its people got the right to vote for president. But that still left DC without full representation in Congress; D.C. sends a "non-voting delegate" to the House. Julia profiles that delegate, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, and her unique approach to fighting for power in a virtually powerless role. Second, Radiolab producer Sarah Qari looks at a current fight to lower the US voting age to 16 that harkens back to the fight for the 26th Amendment in the 1960s. Eighteen-year-olds at the time argued that if they were old enough to be drafted to fight in the War, they were old enough to have a voice in our democracy. But what about today, when even younger Americans are finding themselves at the center of national political debates? Does it mean we should lower the voting age even further? This episode was reported and produced by Julia Longoria and Sarah Qari. Check out Latif Nasser's new Netflix show Connected here. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.