Is the ER Ready for Your Child?

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It seems like a no-brainer: If you need to take your child to the emergency room, then they'll be fully prepared to treat him. However, in most hospitals throughout the nation, the ER either doesn't have the right equipment to use on children or the right staff to treat them - or a dangerous combination of both.

Up to 20 percent of the nation's ER patients are children, but only 6 percent of emergency departments have the equipment, medications and trained staff that children need, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. It begins when a child enters the ER and is assessed for the severity of his illness or injury, a process called triage. Some hospitals use only medical technicians instead of registered nurses. And when children are admitted and treated, the equipment and medications used may not be right for kids. Different sizes of essential equipment, such as oxygen masks and IV needles, should accommodate children's smaller stature. Many ERs use adult equipment on kids, a dangerous practice.