Joint policy statement--guidelines for care of children in the emergency department

Ann Emerg Med. 2009 Oct;54(4):543-52. doi: 10.1016/j.annemergmed.2009.08.010.


Children who require emergency care have unique needs, especially when emergencies are serious or life threatening. The majority of ill and injured children are brought to community hospital emergency departments (EDs) by virtue of their geography within communities. Similarly, emergency medical services (EMS) agencies provide the bulk of out-of-hospital emergency care to children. It is imperative, therefore, that all hospital EDs have the appropriate resources (medications, equipment, policies, and education) and staff to provide effective emergency care for children. This statement outlines resources necessary to ensure that hospital EDs stand ready to care for children of all ages, from neonates to adolescents. These guidelines are consistent with the recommendations of the Institute of Medicine's report on the future of emergency care in the United States health system. Although resources within emergency and trauma care systems vary locally, regionally, and nationally, it is essential that hospital ED staff and administrators and EMS systems' administrators and medical directors seek to meet or exceed these guidelines in efforts to optimize the emergency care of children they serve. This statement has been endorsed by the American Pediatric Association, the American Academy of Family Physicians, American Academy of Physician Assistants, American College of Osteopathic Emergency Physicians, American College of Surgeons, American Heart Association, American Medical Association, Brain Injury Association of America, Child Health Corporation of America, Children's National Medical Center, Family Voices, National Association of Children's Hospitals and Related Institutions, National Association of EMS Physicians, National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians, National Association of State EMS Officials, National Committee for Quality Assurance, National PTA, Safe Kids USA, Society of Trauma Nurses, The Joint Commission, American Pediatric Surgical Association, and Society for Academic Emergency Medicine.

Publication types

  • Practice Guideline
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Clinical Competence / standards
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / organization & administration*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / standards*
  • Humans
  • Nursing Staff, Hospital / standards
  • Pediatrics / standards*
  • Personnel Staffing and Scheduling / standards
  • Quality Assurance, Health Care
  • Safety Management / standards
  • United States
  • Workforce