Because of a nationally apparent increased interest in emergency medical services for children and the need for a greater understanding of the relationship between office pediatric and emergency department care of children, a questionnaire was mailed to practitioners to (1) describe office physician involvement with emergent conditions, and (2) evaluate physician office preparedness for pediatric emergencies. Responses were received from 280 pediatricians and family practitioners, including information regarding the availability of equipment and medication, physician training, and practice characteristics. Of the responding physicians, 62% reported that they assessed in their offices more than one child each week who required hospitalization or urgent treatment. A preparedness score was developed and multiple regression analysis was used to investigate the relationship between this score and physician and practice characteristics. The mean overall preparedness score was 53.7 of a possible 156 (range 5 to 136, SD = 31.3). Characteristics related to this score were type of practice and advanced cardiac life support certification. Large multispecialty practices and practices with physicians trained in advanced cardiac life support tended to have better preparedness scores. Family practitioners tended to have more complete stock of medications than pediatricians. The data presented suggested that critically ill children who enter the medical system via the office setting may have a better than even chance of finding the office unprepared to treat the emergency: in fewer than one third of the offices in which it was reported that at least one patient was seen weekly with asthma, anaphylaxis, sickle cell vasoocclusive crisis, status epilepticus, and sepsis were they fully equipped to treat emergencies related to these conditions. This finding suggests a need for further study of office-based care of life-threatening conditions and for the development of guidelines for office emergency preparedness.
- Received July 11, 1988.
- Accepted August 15, 1988.
- Copyright © 1989 by the American Academy of Pediatrics