A trip to the emergency room with a sick or injured child is one of a parent’s worst nightmares, but it’s not uncommon.  Last year in Arizona there were just over 400,000 emergency department visits by children ages 0–14.  Not all hospital emergency rooms are equally equipped to provide care specific to children.   Arizona is now one step closer to having a system in place to improve outcomes for sick & hurt kids. 

This past month, the Arizona Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AzAAP) launched Pediatric-Prepared Emergency Care, a voluntary certification program for pediatric emergency care.  Our Emergency Medical Services for Children Program initiated the development of the system by working with stakeholders in 2008 to create criteria and identify a model that would work for our state.  The certification program is modeled after the regionalized perinatal system in which the Arizona Perinatal Trust certifies birthing hospitals through a membership/fee peer to peer driven organization. 

The AzAAP will be the certifying body for Pediatric-Prepared Emergency Care.  They’ll certify that emergency departments meet criteria for personnel training, policies, quality improvement activities, equipment and facilities using volunteer emergency health care professionals as site reviewers.  Three tiers of certifications are available:  Prepared, Prepared Plus, or Prepared Advanced.  Pediatric-Prepared Emergency Care opened applications for membership in August, with the approval of the first round of certifications projected to occur this November. 

Funding for initial activities is provided partly by our Emergency Medical Services for Children (EMSC) Program.  Membership fees will enable program sustainability over time.  National statewide pediatric recognition systems have been shown to increase the number of emergency departments that are capable of providing pediatric care.  We’re proud to partner with the AzAAP in this initiative to ensure Arizona’s children are getting the best emergency care possible.