Nearly 20 percent of visits to emergency departments in the U.S. are for children, yet only 6 percent of U.S. hospital emergency departments have all of the necessary equipment, medications and supplies to properly care for pediatric patients. In a joint policy statement, “Guidelines for Care of Children in the Emergency Department
,” the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Emergency Physicians and the Emergency Nurses Association offer recommendations for essential equipment, medications, personnel training and key policies necessary for optimal pediatric emergency care. Children have unique health needs; recognizing and meeting those needs is critical during serious or life-threatening illnesses or injuries. Because most children who need emergency care are brought to community hospitals, it is imperative that all hospital emergency departments stand ready to provide appropriate emergency care to children of all ages, from newborns to adolescents. Pediatric emergency preparedness will be even more essential this fall and winter in communities with high rates of novel H1N1 influenza (swine flu). The joint policy statement also offers recommendations that should promote improved hospital readiness for children in disasters. The policy statement was endorsed by 22 other national organizations or national stakeholders.