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​Children who require emergency care have unique needs, especially when emergencies are serious or life-threatening. It is imperative that all hospital emergency departments (EDs) have the appropriate resources (such as medications, equipment, policies, and education) and staff to provide effective emergency care for children.

Policies, Procedures, and Protocols
The AAP core recommendations for hospital preparedness reside in the AAP Joint Policy Statement Guidelines for Care of Children in the Emergency Department. This policy delineates guidelines and the resources necessary to prepare hospital emergency departments to serve pediatric patients. Adoption of these guidelines should facilitate the delivery of emergency care for children of all ages and, when appropriate, timely transfer to a facility with specialized pediatric services.

Each hospital should have a plan that addresses the following pediatric issues:
  • Availability of medications, vaccines, equipment, and appropriately trained providers for children in disasters.
  • Pediatric surge capacity for both injured and noninjured children.
  • Decontamination, isolation, and quarantine of families and children of all ages.
  • A plan that minimizes parent-child separation and includes tracking of patients, allowing for the timely reunification of separated children with their families.
  • Access to specific medical and mental health therapies, as well as social services, for children in the event of a disaster.
  • Disaster drills with a pediatric mass-casualty incident at least every 2 years.
  • A plan that includes evacuation of pediatric units and pediatric specialty units.
Use the AAP Hospital Preparedness Checklist to determine if your hospital ED is prepared to care for children.

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