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Study Calls for New Standards in Pediatric Trauma Care

December 13, 2007

 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

Consistently ranked as one of the best children’s hospitals in the country by U.S. News & World Report, Seattle Children’s serves as the pediatric and adolescent academic medical referral center for the largest landmass of any children’s hospital in the country (Washington, Alaska, Montana and Idaho). For more than 100 years, Seattle Children’s has been delivering superior patient care while advancing new treatments through pediatric research. Seattle Children’s serves as the primary teaching, clinical and research site for the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Washington School of Medicine. The hospital works in partnership with Seattle Children’s Research Institute and Seattle Children’s Hospital Foundation. For more information, visit www.seattlechildrens.org or follow us on Twitter or Facebook.

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