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Pediatric expert group urges uniform standards of care at acute care facilities

Readers may or may not be familiar with the term medical home, which refers to a model of health care delivery in which a team of professionals is lead by a health care provider who coordinates patient care to ensure continuity and completeness of care.

While medical homes are often the first place children receive medical care, it isn’t always possible for children to receive care in such an environment right away. In such cases, parents take their children to acute care facilities for necessary care. These facilities include emergency rooms, minute clinics, and online telemedicine services. While receiving necessary care is important, the quality or appropriateness of the care is not always up to par. 

In light of this problem, the American Academy of Pediatrics recently released a new policy statement in which it said that the standards of care that apply to pediatric medical homes should also apply to acute care facilities. At present, the lack of standards in acute care facilities can result in improper care, and can sometimes put pediatric patients at risk.

Pediatric training among staff members, continuity and coordination of care with medical homes, knowledge of patients’ medical history and specific needs, utilization of evidence-based medical practices within a defined scope of services, and implementing strategies for assessing and improving patient safety and care quality are all things non-medical home facilities should be providing, according to the policy statement.

One point the group made was that non-medical home facilities should be prepared to care for patients with special needs, but should refer patients to other facilities when necessary, particularly patients under two years of age. Acute care facilities should also be providing progress notes to medical homes to ensure continuity of care, the group said.

The group’s concern with non-medical home facilities failing to incorporate evidence-based medical standards in pediatric care is an interesting one. In our next post, we’ll look more at this issue in light of the concept of standard of care as used in medical malpractice litigation.

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