Study Calls for New Standards in Pediatric Trauma Care

Trauma is the most important cause of morbidity and mortality among children and adolescents, accounting for nearly 16,000 deaths, 250,000 hospital admissions and 9 million emergency department visits annually.


Trauma is the most important cause of morbidity and mortality among children and adolescents, accounting for nearly 16,000 deaths, 250,000 hospital admissions and 9 million emergency department visits annually. The human and financial costs to individuals, families, state and federal government, and society as a whole are enormous.

Today, the American Association for the Surgery of Trauma is publishing a report on the state of pediatric trauma care as a supplement to the Journal of Trauma, which highlights the many questions that remain unanswered about the care of the injured child.

“There is tremendous variation across the country in care of injured children and a general lack of standards and treatment guidelines,” states Dr. Gregory Jurkovich, president-elect of the Association and Chief of Trauma at Harborview Medical Center. “This variability in care results in many communities failing to provide standards of care for injured children, condemning them and their families to a life scarred by disability, which possibly could have been prevented.”

Dr. Frederick Rivara, a co-author of the report and an attending physician at Harborview Medical Center and Children’s Hospital and Regional Medical Center, points out that primary prevention is the optimal “treatment” for pediatric trauma. “However, it is only one component in the broader field of injury control and will never be sufficient without treatment systems,” he says.

The report calls for a national study to determine the best way to care for injured children in order for them to have the best possible outcomes. The organization of pediatric trauma care is much more complex than that of care for adult trauma and a separate study on children is necessary.

This need was recently underscored in a study by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) on emergency care in the United States. In “Emergency Care for Children: Growing Pains,” the IOM concludes: “As reforms to the broader emergency care system are accomplished, policy makers at the federal, state, and local levels must not repeat mistakes made in previous decades by neglecting the special needs of pediatric patients.”

About Seattle Children’s

Seattle Children’s Hospital, Foundation and Research Institute together deliver superior patient care, advance new discoveries and treatments through pediatric research, and raise funds to create better futures for patients. Consistently ranked as one of the top 10 children’s hospitals in the country by U.S. News & World Report, Seattle Children’s Hospital specializes in meeting the unique physical, emotional and developmental needs of children from infancy through young adulthood. Through the collaboration of physicians in nearly 60 pediatric subspecialties, Seattle Children’s Hospital provides inpatient, outpatient, diagnostic, surgical, rehabilitative, behavioral, and emergency and outreach services to families from around the world.

Located in downtown Seattle’s biotech corridor, Seattle Children’s Research Institute is pushing the boundaries of medical research to find cures for pediatric diseases and improve outcomes for children all over the world. Internationally recognized investigators and staff at the research institute are advancing new discoveries in cancer, genetics, immunology, pathology, infectious disease, injury prevention, bioethics and much more.

Seattle Children’s Hospital and Research Foundation and Seattle Children’s Hospital Guild Association work together to gather community support and raise funds for uncompensated care, clinical care and research. The foundation receives nearly 80,000 gifts each year, from lemonade stand proceeds to corporate sponsorships. Seattle Children’s Hospital Guild Association is the largest all-volunteer fundraising network for any hospital in the country, serving as the umbrella organization for 450 groups of people who turn an activity they love into a fundraiser. Support from the foundation and guild association makes it possible for Seattle Children’s care and research teams to improve the health and well-being of all kids.

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