Pediatric emergencies in the office: are family physicians as prepared as pediatricians?

J Fam Pract. 2001 Sep;50(9):757-61.


Objective: Our objective was to assess the occurrence of pediatric emergencies in the offices of family physicians and pediatricians, the preparedness to respond, and the perceived importance of being prepared.

Study design: We performed a cross-sectional random mail survey of physicians.

Population: Surveys were sent to 187 family physicians and 129 pediatricians practicing in North Carolina with 75% and 86% response rates, respectively. The 169 total respondents were in community practices regularly treating children and were included for analysis.

Outcomes measured: We measured the incidence of 8 types of pediatric emergencies, the availability of 11 items for resuscitation and stabilization, whether the physician had Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) training in the previous 2 years, whether the office ever conducted a mock emergency, and beliefs about the importance of preparing for and providing emergency care to children.

Results: Six types of pediatric emergencies were seen in one third or more of all practices during the year. The average practice saw 4 or more pediatric emergencies in a year (family physicians = 3.8 vs pediatricians = 4.9, P <.001). Family physicians had fewer resuscitation and stabilization items than pediatricians (5.7 vs 8.6 items, P <.001) and were less prepared in terms of PALS training (19% vs 51%, P <.001). Those with PALS training were more likely to have an intraosseous needle and Broselow tape and to have conducted a mock code. Family physicians considered it is less important than pediatricians to provide such care or to be prepared to do so.

Conclusions: Pediatric emergencies in the office are likely for either specialty. Family physicians may be less prepared, and they discount the importance of the problem and need for preparation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Competence*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Emergencies
  • Family Practice*
  • Humans
  • Life Support Systems / instrumentation
  • North Carolina
  • Pediatrics*
  • Physicians' Offices*
  • Resuscitation / education