Many children get surgeries at adult hospitals

As many as 40% of childhood surgeries are performed in adult hospitals by surgeons who haven’t trained in the intricacies of caring for growing bodies, according to a 2013 study.

The study published in Pediatrics, the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, concluded common procedures such as appendectomy were just as likely to be performed at an adult hospital by surgeons lacking specialized pediatric training.

“This presents two potential problems.  First, the surgeon may not be board certified in pediatric surgery or skilled in operating on a pediatric patient.  In addition, pediatric anesthesiologists typically aren’t available at adult hospitals, which means someone without the necessary skill set and experience will be the one administering anesthetics to your child.  What if something goes wrong?” said Mark J. McDonald, M.D., medical director for Norton Children’s Hospital and Norton Children’s Medical Center.

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Fewer children’s hospital facilities available

A separate editorial in Anesthesia & Analgesia, a publication of the International Anesthesia Research Society, noted that many children live far from a pediatric hospital. For a seemingly routine procedure, it may seem appropriate to avoid the travel and expense by going to an adult facility.  However, simpler and easier does not mean your child is safer. Children who are anesthetized in pediatric settings by highly experienced or trained pediatric anesthesiologists have fewer adverse outcomes, the editorial noted.

Pediatric specialists have the experience caring for a child’s unique physiology. They also will have more ready access to specialized equipment for children, from advanced diagnostic equipment and emergency equipment to properly sized airway tubes.


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