Majority of U.K. Hospitals Offer Child Head Trauma Care

But most child ER visits are to hospitals that lack on-site care for critically ill children

FRIDAY, May 27 (HealthDay News) -- Although the majority of U.K. hospitals have an established pathway for managing head injuries in children, many hospitals are lacking on-site services to care for a critically ill child, according to a study published online May 23 in the Emergency Medicine Journal.

Rosie Houston and Gale A. Pearson, M.B.B.S., M.R.C.P., from the Centre for Maternal and Child Enquiries in London, investigated the distribution of child emergency department attendances between hospitals in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, and the organization of care for children with head injuries. A total of 245 eligible hospitals were surveyed between September 2009 and April 2010. Data from the survey included hospital details, departments and procedures, emergency department activity, imaging, admission and discharge procedures, referral and transfer, and nonaccidental head injuries.

The investigators found that children with head injuries were managed through an established pathway in 64 percent of the hospitals. However, a significant portion of hospitals that assert themselves as specialist trauma or neurological centers do not offer intensive care services for children. A total of 82 percent of child emergency department attendances were to hospitals that do not offer on-site care for critically ill children. Hospitals offering on-site care were more likely to have trained pediatric staff in the emergency department, and access to additional surgical care beyond neurosurgery.

"Given the extent of variation between hospitals in the facilities available for head-injured children, further comparative studies into the standards of care delivered and outcomes (including a confidential enquiry) are indicated," the authors write.

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