Is your emergency department ready to treat children this winter?

Emergency staff are being urged to ensure they are ready to provide paediatric care

As we prepare for the seasonal influx of patients, emergency care teams are being urged to make sure they have the equipment and skills to care for children

The cold winter months are here and with their arrival a rise in respiratory problems will follow.

Respiratory problems are exacerbated in winter. Picture: iStock

The winter routine involves ramping up education on preventive measures, such as hand hygiene and vaccinations, and increasing respiratory interventions. Constant appraisal is imperative as complacency will put our patients at risk of harm.

Recently, the American Academy of Pediatrics published a joint policy statement on paediatric readiness in the emergency department (ED) in the US. The statement was rewritten to implore that EDs evaluate their resources so they are able to provide high quality care for children. This is especially important for those EDs that only care for fewer than 15 paediatric patients a day, which will be the case in almost 70% of all paediatric ED visits in the US.

Life-saving interventions

Regardless of the size of the ED, the policy highlights that evaluation of the care that is provided, including life-saving interventions and ongoing education for staff and patients, is a priority to maintain proficiency in delivering safe care.  

This seems like common sense, but it is a reminder that paediatric patients are not ‘little adults’ and their physiology needs to be understood in serious or life-threatening emergencies.

As a reminder this season, when paediatric respiratory illnesses count for a high percentage of ED visits, take a moment to review how prepared your ED is to treat children and young people – whichever side of the Atlantic you work on.

Find out more

Pediatric Readiness in the Emergency Department

About the author

Rachel Lyons is associate professor at Montclair State University School of Nursing in Montclair, NJ, US



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