ERs ill-prepared to treat children

Thirty million children 18 years old and younger are treated in emergency rooms (ERs) each year, according to the Wall Street Journal. Almost 90 percent of them are treated in general community hospitals that often lack pediatric units, and with them catheters, breathing tubes and other emergency equipment designed and sized for children. While a recent study showed hospital readiness for pediatric emergency care has improved, progress has been "slow at best." The study showed that only about half of the participating ERs have doctors and nurses with pediatric expertise. The majority of ERs have most of the recommended pediatric equipment, but half do not have all of it. More than 15 percent are missing critical tools, such as special forceps designed to remove objects blocking a child's airways. Hospitals reported a number of barriers to preparedness, including the high cost of pediatric training. Article