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Pediatric Care Provided at Urgent Care Centers in the United States

Compliance With Recommendations for Emergency Preparedness

Wilkinson, Robert DO; Olympia, Robert P. MD; Dunnick, Jennifer MPH; Brady, Jodi MD

doi: 10.1097/PEC.0000000000000698
Original Articles

Objectives To describe the compliance of urgent care centers in the United States with pediatric care recommendations for emergency preparedness as set forth by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Methods An electronic questionnaire was distributed to urgent care center administrators as identified by the American Academy of Urgent Care Medicine directory.

Results A total of 122 questionnaires of the 872 distributed were available for analysis (14% usable response rate). The most common diagnoses reported for pediatric patients included otitis media (72%), upper respiratory illness (69%), strep pharyngitis (61%), bronchiolitis (30%), and extremity sprain/strain (28%). Seventy-one percent of centers have contacted community emergency medical services (EMS) to transport a critically ill or injured child to their local emergency department in the past year. Sixty-two percent of centers reported having an established written protocol with community EMS and 54% with their local emergency department or hospital. Centers reported the availability of the following essential medications and equipment: oxygen source (75%), nebulized/inhaled β-agonist (95%), intravenous epinephrine (88%), oxygen masks/nasal cannula (89%), bag-valve-mask resuscitator (81%), suctioning device (60%), and automated external defibrillator (80%). Centers reported the presence of the following written emergency plans: respiratory distress (40%), seizures (67%), dehydration/shock (69%), head injury (59%), neck injury (67%), significant fracture (69%), and blunt chest or abdominal injury (81%). Forty-seven percent of centers conduct formal reviews of emergent or difficult cases in a quality improvement format.

Conclusions Areas for improvement in urgent care center preparedness were identified, such as increasing the availability of essential medications and equipment, establishing transfer and transport agreements with local hospitals and community EMS, and ensuring a structured quality improvement program.

From the *Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital, Hershey, PA; †Department of Emergency Medicine & Pediatrics, Penn State Hershey Medical Center/Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital, Hershey, PA; ‡Penn State College of Medicine, Hershey, PA; and §Department of Pediatrics, Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital, Hershey, PA.

Disclosure: The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Reprints: Robert Patrick Olympia, MD, Department of Emergency Medicine, Penn State Hershey Medical Center, 500 University Drive, PO Box 850, Hershey, PA 17033-0850 (e-mail:

No external funding was secured for this study.

The authors have no financial relationships relevant to this article to disclose.

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