Objectives: To catalog trauma center resources and estimate access to age-specific trauma care for children younger than 15 years in the United States.
Design: Cross-sectional study collating information from national, state, and local trauma systems authorities to create a catalog of verified pediatric trauma centers (PTCs) and self-designated "candidate" trauma centers. Access-to-care calculations were estimated using all US block groups and prior validated methods.
Setting: United States.
Patients: Children in the US younger than 15 years.
Main outcome measures: The PTC statuses of hospitals in the United States. Percentages of pediatric populations (by state and population density) having access (by ground or air) within 60 minutes to a PTC.
Results: A total of 170 verified PTCs were identified in 41 states (including the District of Columbia). An estimated 71.5% of pediatric patients were within 60 minutes of a verified PTC by air or ground transport, 43% if ground transportation only was considered. An estimated 17.4 million children did not have access to a PTC within 60 minutes. Access ranged from 22.9% of the population in the most rural areas of the United States to 93.5% in the most urban. The addition of 24 candidate centers increased coverage to 77.4% of the pediatric population being within 60 minutes of a PTC.
Conclusions: Current pediatric trauma resources vary greatly by state and population density, with many children, particularly in rural areas, underserved. A thorough standardized catalog of verified PTCs is necessary to accurately assess pediatric trauma needs now and to optimize future trauma system planning for children.