Nearly half of the nation’s hospital emergency departments have a physician or nurse on staff whose role is to guarantee top-quality care for kids who come through their doors.

These pediatric emergency care coordinators make sure staff are properly trained, the right equipment is available and policies are in place to care for children.

A study, published in JAMA Pediatrics, finds that hospital EDs have greatly improved their readiness to treat kids. Overall, the national readiness score jumped from 55 in 2003 to nearly 70 in the latest assessment, conducted from January to August of last year.

However, the assessment identified three areas that need particular attention:

• Only 47 percent of respondents had a disaster plan that addresses issues specific to the care of children.
• At least 15 percent of EDs lacked one or more pieces of equipment recommended in a 2009 joint policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Emergency Physicians and the Emergency Nurses Association, such as a Magill forceps to remove foreign bodies from airways.
• Nearly 81 percent of respondents reported barriers to implementing recommended guidelines, including cost of training personnel and lack of educational resources.

To learn more, visit the National Pediatric Readiness Project.