Texas Children’s Hospital leads the way in introducing proposed program to help EMS personnel identify the right place for a child’s treatment faster

College of Medicine are excited to announce their partnership with the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) for Children Program of Texas, who, through working with these, as well as other hospitals and organizations throughout the state, are hoping to bring attention to the need for a statewide Pediatric Facility Recognition Program. The goal of this initiative is to help EMS providers and referring hospitals identify the most appropriate place for their pediatric patients to receive care.

“Currently, Texas does not have a system in place for recognizing which facilities have the capabilities to handle pediatric medical emergencies, specifically in terms of pediatric emergency care, neonatal and pediatric intensive care, and pediatric inpatient capability,” says Dr. Manish Shah, Texas Children’s Hospital Emergency Center attending physician, assistant professor of pediatrics at Baylor and program director for the EMS for Children State Partnership in Texas. “Since more than 70 percent of pediatric patients arrive to an emergency department by means other than EMS, and the majority of pediatric emergency care is provided in facilities that are not children’s hospitals, a standardized recognition system needs to be in place to inform the public, EMS agencies and referring hospitals of local and regional hospitals with specific pediatric capabilities.”

To ensure that Texas is well prepared to meet the emergency care needs of children, the Texas EMS for Children State Partnership conducted a comprehensive needs assessment in 2013 of the State’s capacity to provide pediatric emergency care in emergency departments and affiliated hospitals through its participation in the National Pediatric Readiness Project. It found that only 36 percent of hospital emergency departments in Texas have all of their physicians board-certified in either Emergency Medicine or Pediatric Emergency Medicine, and only 9 percent of hospitals in Texas have a Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. This means that if a child is critically ill, or needs emergency medical attention, ambulance agencies currently may not have sufficient information to know where to transport the sickest children in a timely manner, and hospitals may not know the closest, most appropriate facility to transfer a patient in need of a higher level of care. These gaps in the current system could cause delays in children receiving the most appropriate and necessary treatment.

In order to make this happen, collaboration and awareness are essential.

  • Physicians, especially those that provide pediatric and/or emergency care, should support the development of a Pediatric Facility Recognition Program in Texas by collaborating with their colleagues across the State and educating legislators and the public about the issue.
  • Families, especially those with children with special health care needs, should speak with their physician about where to access care for their child when traveling elsewhere in the State or, in the event that local facilities may not be functioning, to provide health care services during a disaster.
  • Both EMS agencies and hospitals should have personnel assigned to coordinate the triage, transport and transfers of pediatric patients across the continuum of emergency care.