Pediatric Care in Rural Hospital Emergency Departments overview
Optimal emergency care for children may be difficult for rural hospitals to provide. Rural hospitals have less access to pediatric and emergency medicine trained physicians and a low volume of pediatric ED patients makes it difficult for staff to maintain pediatric care skills. In addition, rural hospitals may be far from a hospital that admits critically ill children, requiring that the rural hospital receive and stabilize pediatric emergency cases prior to transfer. Previous studies have only partially investigated potential rural disparities in pediatric emergency care. In this study, we analyzed data from the Emergency Pediatric Services and Equipment Supplement (EPSES) to the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NHAMCS) to compare rural and urban hospitals’ responses on various dimensions of pediatric ED care. We also surveyed 65 ED directors at rural hospitals in a separate process to explore rural pediatric ED care in more detail and to obtain the opinion of rural ED administrators regarding ways to assure quality emergency care for children.