The state has certified Marin County’s emergency treatment plan for children, a move the county described as a breakthrough after five years of effort.
“Thanks in large part to the hard work and dedication of our hospital partners, we have created a child care system that will not only provide better and more compassionate care, but will also be much more capable of quickly adapting to change and stress. in the system. , like in a disaster situation,” says Dr. Dustin Ballard, medical director of the Marin County Emergency Medical Services Agency.
The California Emergency Medical Services Authority notified Marin of its compliance in April. Before that, the local standard of emergency care could vary and may not always include best practices for children, such as age-appropriate equipment and child-friendly pain management and distraction techniques, the county said.
In 2020, 409 children in Marin needed ambulances, 217 of them for traumatic injuries. All but 18 were taken to hospitals in the province.
During the wars in Korea and Vietnam, doctors found that survival rates improved significantly when patients were stabilized in the field and immediately transported to an emergency medical center. This approach was incorporated into adult patient treatment in the US from 1975, and medical outcomes improved dramatically.
However, it wasn’t until 1984 that Congress authorized the use of federal funds for emergency medical care for children.
A study published in the medical journal Pediatrics in 2019 found that the risk of death was four times higher in children who arrived at the emergency room with low pediatric preparedness scores. The data covered 20,483 critically ill children in 426 hospitals.
An emergency department is considered pediatric if it has the appropriate processes, staff, and equipment to treat children and can determine when a child needs more specialized care.
“Children are not just small adults and need specific sized equipment to stabilize the airways, administer IV fluids and medications, and provide safety equipment for ambulance transportation,” said registered nurse Karrie Groves, a program coordinator at Marin County. Emergency Medical Services Agency. “Changes to our system were made specifically to address this special population and are in effect today.”
MarinHealth Medical Center and Kaiser Permanente San Rafael Medical Center are both certified pediatric shelters. MarinHealth is an advanced center; all staff and doctors there have received special training in the treatment of pediatric patients.
The MarinHealth center emphasizes pain avoidance with numbing drugs before injections and chooses alternative methods of drug delivery whenever possible. MarinHealth also employs a specialist who uses play to educate and distract nervous young patients.
“We are proud to live in a county where we work very closely with our EMS partners in providing excellent care to our children,” said Michelle Tracy, director of emergency care and trauma services at MarinHealth. “So now, from the time an ambulance picks up a child to the time the child is discharged, they get specialized pediatric care.”