Program Overview

Are the Emergency Care Needs of Children with Special Health Care Needs Being Met? In our rapidly changing high tech health care environment, children with very special health care needs are increasing. Kids with high tech gear such as ventriculoperitoneal shunts, gastrostomy tubes, indwelling central lines, tracheostomies, pacemakers and home ventilators are becoming common in the community. Children with very complex and difficult health care needs which not only include rare genetic and metabolic problems but also those with difficult to manage asthma, diabetes, sickle cell disease, malignancies and a variety of other problems are increasing. Because of the complex and varied needs of these children, they are often lost in the cracks between the specialists and the primary care medical home. When a crisis occurs and children with special health care needs must access the emergency system, they are often left vulnerable because of a lack of access to information about their medical problems. There can be delays in treatment, unnecessary tests, and sometimes serious errors as a result of lack of access to information available to the treating emergency physician.

To facilitate prompt and appropriate emergency care for children with special health care needs, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) have developed an Emergency Information Form (EIF) which can be used as a tool to transfer critical information about these children (click link provided to complete online and download an interactive Word document). It is hoped that the EIF form will gain acceptance and be utilized by primary caregivers and specialists so that emergency physicians may have access to vital information when emergencies occur.

The EIF form and joint AAP/ACEP policy guidelines on developing emergency care plans were simultaneously published in Pediatrics and Annals of Emergency Medicine in October 1999 and updated in April 2010, and are accessible on the AAP and ACEP web sites. A blank EIF form and sample completed EIF form can also be downloaded and may be duplicated as needed.

We urge you to review the joint AAP/ACEP policy guidelines along with the Emergency Information Form and work to make the EIF available to emergency care providers as necessary.

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American Academy of Pediatrics