February 2003, Volume 26 Number 1 , p 7 - 18
Gastroenteritis is one of the most common reasons for hospitalization in the United States for children under the age of 5 years. Second only to respiratory problems, the cost of providing care for these children is estimated to exceed $2 billion dollars annually ( Burkhart, 1999; Prescilla, 2002). This article reviews the causes of gastroenteritis as well as the 1996 American Academy of Pediatrics Guidelines for treatment of gastroenteritis. These guidelines and more recently published literature were used to develop a clinical pathway to improve the care of pediatric patients admitted to the hospital with gastroenteritis. The article discusses the importance of clinical pathways and the process of implementation of a pathway for pediatric gastroenteritis. Additionally, the article provides a parent teaching tool to address recurrent questions parents have related to home management of a child with gastroenteritis. Useful web sites for resource information related to gastroenteritis are provided as well.