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Wednesday, May 24, is Emergency Medical Services for Children Day

“Benny the Bearamedic” may sound like a cute and cuddly creation, but he exists to bring awareness to a very serious matter – specialized emergency care for children. The need for quality pediatric emergency medical care is so important that it is highlighted annually during Emergency Medical Services Week (EMS). Started in 1974, EMS Week runs May 21st through 27th this year. May 24th is EMS for Children Day, sponsored by the federal Emergency Medical Services for Children (EMSC) Program, the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP), the Emergency Nurses Association (ENA), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

The emergency medical system in this country has been labeled as “overburdened, underfunded, and highly fragmented.” Children are highly vulnerable patients with unique needs that have not been fully integrated into the healthcare system. For example, adult-sized blood pressure cuffs, endotracheal tubes, and defibrillators cannot be used on children, yet many emergency rooms are missing these common devices. Shouldn’t all emergency departments have the essential equipment, medications, supplies, and personnel for managing pediatric emergencies?

Improving specialized care for kids in prehospital and acute care situations is a worthy goal for EMS providers, hospital personnel, and parents. One way that an emergency department can measure its ability to provide urgent medical services to kids is through an assessment known as the National Pediatric Readiness Project. Based on the “Guidelines for Care of Children in the Emergency Department,” the assessment assigns a score of up to 100 points according to whether an emergency department has the essential components needed to establish a foundation for pediatric readiness. In 2013, data was collected from over 4,000 emergency departments, representing 24 million annual pediatric visits. The average score was an underwhelming 69.

Emergency Medical Services for Children Day raises awareness about the need for improving medical care for children in emergency situations. Pediatric care should be an integrated part of every medical services system, yet a national assessment shows that only six percent of US emergency departments have all the equipment and medication that is recommended in order to effectively treat children.

Emergencies can happen to anyone at any time. Everyone is entitled to the highest degree of care when having their medical conditions diagnosed and treated. Children are not exempt. When pediatric emergency medical care is substandard, the chance of medical error increases. It’s easy to imagine a hectic emergency room where an overworked doctor fails to take a young patient’s size into account when prescribing medication and an improperly trained nurse fails to catch it. This is just one of many scenarios that can happen, making awareness and improvement of children’s emergency medical services a critical issue.

Errors in medicine can have serious, even fatal, consequences. If you have any questions about this topic, or if you believe that a medical error may be responsible for your child’s injury or wrongful death, talk to the medical mistake attorneys at Stabinski & Funt, P.A. As one of South Florida's most respected and oldest law firms, we have helped many people sort out their legal rights, responsibilities, and remedies for over 45 years. If you wish to learn more about how our firm can be of assistance to you, we encourage you to contact us today by calling 305-964-8644 or filling out a free case evaluation form.

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