Are Austin emergency rooms prepared to help sick children? Local pediatricians plan to find out

Simple Health

AUSTIN (KXAN) — In a serious medical emergency, up to 85% of kid’s first stop is not a children’s hospital, but an urgent care or general hospital instead.

Dr. Coburn Allen, of Pediatric Emergency Medicine at Dell Children’s and Dell Medical School, says that even though these facilities are trained to see children, they are not always equipped as pediatric-specific ones.

Allen, along with Dr. Sujit Iyer, Director of Pediatric Outreach at Dell Children’s, are on a mission to visit every community hospital or urgent care in Austin to see if they are pediatric ready.

“The whole idea of pediatric readiness is we are trying to help all of the ERs in America, all the urgent cares in America, to be better prepared to take care of children — because frankly that’s where they are going for their care,” says Allen.

Iyer says research proves if an emergency department is not prepared to treat a child, the outcome could be worse.

“So what we know from recent studies, nationally, is that you compare the best-prepared hospitals to the least-prepared hospitals and there is almost a 3 times difference in survival.”

The doctors are part of a two-day event in Austin called the 2019 Pediatric Readiness Conference, which aims to bring medical professionals from all over the country together in one place.

“We’ll present the common scenarios of children to present and then we’ll talk about the things that are different in pediatrics compared to adults, so that people have an idea — cognitively — what they should be doing,” explains Allen.

The outreach will focus on how emergency departments having the right size medical equipment designed for children can be life-saving. Iyler says the data will be collected locally and shared on a national level.

“This will be, for the most part, the largest report card of clinical care for pediatric care in community EDs,” says Iyler. “And perhaps for the first time, set benchmarks of what families and hospitals should expect for the minimum level of excellence care for pediatrics in the community.”

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