The National Pediatric Readiness Project of the Emergency Medical Services for Children surveyed emergency departments in the United States in 2013 for readiness to provide emergency care to children. However, that survey did not query for many elements considered essential to Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS).
Our pediatric trauma center and state department of health collaborated to develop a survey reflecting ATLS principles regarding pediatric-specific trauma stabilization, clinical/administrative resources, and interfacility transfer to complement the 2017 PedsReady survey. We distributed the survey to all emergency department medical directors in our state in 2017.
Medical directors of all 11 emergency departments responded. Only 2 reported having physician or nurse pediatric trauma coordinators. Two reported comfort with all emergency procedures at all ages (eg, airway, traumatic pneumothorax treatment, etc), whereas 9 had variable thresholds of comfort by age and procedure. Reported utilization of pediatric trauma-specific protocols varied the following: hyperosmolar therapy (1), neurological assessment (3), chest injury (4), massive transfusion (1), triage (5), trauma transfer agreements (10), imaging-limitation protocols (4), internal (1) and inter-facility (4) quality assurance/quality improvement process (1), and real-time image transfer (11).
This survey identified gaps in the readiness of emergency departments to treat injured children in our state that were not detected by the 2013 PedsReady surveys. Future surveys of emergency department pediatric readiness should consider more detailed, trauma-specific readiness questions. This will allow for assignment of more accurate goals and benchmarking standards for national pediatric trauma readiness.