Objective: To examine determinants of quality of care provided by pediatric emergency departments (PEDs) in tertiary European centers.
Methods: Analysis of questionnaires was sent to directors of PEDs. Questionnaires were sent through the pediatric research group of the European Society for Emergency Medicine. Three major descriptive categories were included in a 28-point questionnaire: institution's pediatric inpatient capabilities, scope of services, and medical staff education and structure.
Results: Sixty-five questionnaires were completed in full. Fifty-three tertiary medical centers from 14 countries were included in the study. In 86.8% of these institutions, the PED is separated from the adult emergency department; 91% have a pediatric intensive care unit, and 72% have an in-patient pediatric trauma service. Eighty-eight percent of the PEDs have incorporated triage protocols. Social service was not available in 17% of the departments. Sedation for painful procedures is provided by the staff in 77% of the PEDs. Only 24% of the PED medical directors have been formally trained in pediatric emergency medicine. In 17% of the departments, there is a 24-hour 7-day residents' coverage with no attending pediatrician or pediatric emergency medicine-trained physician.
Conclusions: According to this pilot study, the basic services provided by tertiary PEDs in Europe appear to be appropriate. Physicians training level and staffing may not be adequate to achieve optimal patient outcome.