Study objective: To address the need for coordinated care for children and their families during the acute care phase of their hospitalization.
Methods: A multidiscipline task force developed this concept paper through a consensus process. The process was coordinated by the Emergency Medical Services for Children Program (a program of the Health Resources and Services Administration and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration). The task force included representatives from prehospital care, acute care, rehabilitation, primary care, and education, as well as consumers. This representation provided a broad perspective on the needs of children and their families in the transition from hospital care to home.
Conclusion: One designated individual is essential during the acute care phase who can assist the family with gaining information and resources to ensure a successful transition to community services and resources. This article provides a framework for acute care facilities and providers to use in planning services and working with acutely ill and injured children. Several recommendations highlight the need for care coordination to be initiated early in the child's hospitalization. An overview of services and resources (both health and educational) that a child and family may need is also provided. Such services and resources include identifying a care coordinator, working with the family to identify a primary care provider before hospital discharge, and building bridges with community-based health and education services.