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Children's National Division Chief Co-Authors Article on Pediatric Emergency Care

Washington, DC—  Children’s Division Chief of Emergency Medicine and Trauma Services, James Chamberlain, MD, is the lead author of an article published in the journal Health Affairs titled, “Emergency Care for Children in the United States.” The article advocates for federal research dollars and changes at the national level to improve the quality of pediatric emergency care and promote best practices.

Dr. Chamberlain, and co-authors, Steven Krug, MD, Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital, and Kathy N. Shaw, MD, MSCE, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, urge policymakers to consider a number of changes in the system. Specifically they call for funding to develop best practice standards for pediatric emergency care and improve reimbursement that rewards all providers, including subspecialists and mental health providers, for providing care after-hours and on weekends, and rewards providers and hospitals for providing effective treatment rather than unnecessary care. They also propose investments in research and psychiatric care, improved regional coordination of hospitals, and standardized patient satisfaction metrics.  

Pediatric emergency care currently faces many challenges, particularly issues in quality and access due to overcrowding, barriers for the underinsured and uninsured, and a lack of best practice standards for treating children in emergency departments. The authors seek to improve pediatric medical care by moving many non-emergency cases back to a primary care setting.

“Nearly 43 percent of the children in the country are dependent on Medicaid for medical care and 7 percent have no health insurance at all. Their parents don’t always have access to phone triage or an ongoing relationship with a primary care physician, they can’t get same day or after hours appointments, and if they need specialized testing they will be sent to another location. These reasons make people want to come to the emergency department, so we’re seeing many children we shouldn’t be seeing,” said Dr. Chamberlain. “We need to shift our funding priorities and revamp the system to offer incentives that ultimately move patients back to the medical home.”

Dr. Chamberlain is a national leader in the development of risk adjustment methods for use in the emergency department setting. He is the Division Chief of Emergency Medicine, the Principal Investigator for the Chesapeake-Atlantic node of the Pediatric Emergency Care Applied Research Network (PECARN), and professor of Pediatrics and Emergency Medicine at the George Washington University. His research focuses on quality of care for pediatric emergency patients.

Contact: Emily Hartman or Caitlyn Camacho at 202-476-4500.

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