A national assessment of pediatric readiness of emergency departments

JAMA Pediatr. 2015 Jun;169(6):527-34. doi: 10.1001/jamapediatrics.2015.138.


Importance: Previous assessments of readiness of emergency departments (EDs) have not been comprehensive and have shown relatively poor pediatric readiness, with a reported weighted pediatric readiness score (WPRS) of 55.

Objectives: To assess US EDs for pediatric readiness based on compliance with the 2009 guidelines for care of children in EDs; to evaluate the effect of physician/nurse pediatric emergency care coordinators (PECCs) on pediatric readiness; and to identify gaps for future quality initiatives by a national coalition.

Design, setting, and participants: Web-based assessment of US EDs (excluding specialty hospitals and hospitals without an ED open 24 hours per day, 7 days per week) for pediatric readiness. All 5017 ED nurse managers were sent a 55-question web-based assessment. Assessments were administered from January 1 through August 23, 2013. Data were analyzed from September 12, 2013, through January 11, 2015.

Main outcomes and measures: A modified Delphi process generated a WPRS. An adjusted WPRS was calculated excluding the points received for the presence of physician and nurse PECCs.

Results: Of the 5017 EDs contacted, 4149 (82.7%) responded, representing 24 million annual pediatric ED visits. Among the EDs entered in the analysis, 69.4% had low or medium pediatric volume and treated less than 14 children per day. The median WPRS was 68.9 (interquartile range [IQR] 56.1-83.6). The median WPRS increased by pediatric patient volume, from 61.4 (IQR, 49.5-73.6) for low-pediatric-volume EDs compared with 89.8 (IQR, 74.7-97.2) for high-pediatric-volume EDs (P < .001). The median percentage of recommended pediatric equipment available was 91% (IQR, 81%-98%). The presence of physician and nurse PECCs was associated with a higher adjusted median WPRS (82.2 [IQR, 69.7-92.5]) compared with no PECC (66.5 [IQR, 56.0-76.9]) across all pediatric volume categories (P < .001). The presence of PECCs increased the likelihood of having all the recommended components, including a pediatric quality improvement process (adjusted relative risk, 4.11 [95% CI, 3.37-5.02]). Barriers to guideline implementation were reported by 80.8% of responding EDs.

Conclusions and relevance: These data demonstrate improvement in pediatric readiness of EDs compared with previous reports. The physician and nurse PECCs play an important role in pediatric readiness of EDs, and their presence is associated with improved compliance with published guidelines. Barriers to implementation of guidelines may be targeted for future initiatives by a national coalition whose goal is to ensure day-to-day pediatric readiness of our nation's EDs.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Delivery of Health Care / standards
  • Delivery of Health Care / trends
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / standards*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / trends
  • Health Services Needs and Demand / standards
  • Health Services Needs and Demand / trends
  • Humans
  • Pediatrics / standards*
  • Pediatrics / trends
  • Quality Assurance, Health Care / standards*
  • Quality Assurance, Health Care / trends
  • Quality Improvement / standards
  • Quality Improvement / trends
  • Quality Indicators, Health Care / standards*
  • Quality Indicators, Health Care / trends
  • United States