"I keep seeing billboards for "kid-friendly" ERs. What makes an ER kid-friendly, and shouldn't all ERs be kid-friendly?"

Dorothy Q
Kansas City, MO

Our Response

As a parent, you know that sooner or later, your child will need an emergency room. You don’t want to think about it, but things happen and kids get sick, and you want to be ready. But now it’s one more part of healthcare that can be so confusing. When you broke your arm as a kid, your parents took you to the local ER for a cast. Now that you have kids of your own, suddenly things are or aren’t kid-friendly?

Kid-friendly can mean a lot of things. Children are not just smaller-sized adults. They have different needs and, more importantly, are less able to describe a symptom or tell doctors what hurts. Children can also be overwhelmed by being in a new and scary place while being very sick or hurt.

Studies show that in a given year, about 18 percent of all kids will visit an ER. You might think that would make all ERs kid-friendly, but many parents have found out that is not true when they arrived at an ER with a child with a high fever or broken bone. It’s even more confusing because three-quarters of all children’s ER visits happen at night or on weekends. You may know what to do when you can take your child to your pediatrician, but what do you do when the office is closed?

At HCA Midwest Health ERs, our people are ready to care for your child. We have 10 pediatric-ready emergency rooms, all with 24/7 services. These ERs treat almost 25,000 kids every year. HCA Midwest Health emergency departments are conveniently located in Overland Park, Olathe, Shawnee, Leawood, Belton, Independence, Brookside, Lexington, Kansas City and Lee's Summit.

How can parents tell which ER is kid-friendly? One way is a hospital’s scores on the National Pediatric Readiness Project (NPRP).

The NPRP is an assessment by the federal Emergency Medical Services for Children Program that helps decide how ready an ER is to care for a sick or injured child. The program’s guidelines were developed by major pediatric and emergency medicine groups, endorsed by 22 national organizations, and published in medical journals.

These guidelines cover all kinds of ER care for children:

  • Staff training and certification to treat kids
  • Equipment like child and infant blood pressure cuffs, needles and oxygen masks
  • Knowing how to determine the correct medication doses for children

This type of kid-friendly readiness also means minimizing the time a child is separated from a parent in the ER or knowing what to do when a parent is not available.

Assessment of ERs was just the first phase of the readiness project. Its second phase includes ways to improve ERs. That includes sharing the latest research and practices on treating children from the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Emergency Physicians and the Emergency Nurses Association.

With more than 5,000 ERs participating, the NPRP national average score is 69 on a 100-point scale. The eight HCA Midwest Health ERs that were rated scored well above the average, from 88 to 100. Our ERs at Centerpoint, Lee’s Summit, and Menorah Medical Center earned perfect scores. That means our ERs are ready to treat your child now and are working to get even better at it every year.

Those are the numbers, but it comes down to the fact that for HCA Midwest Health, ‘kid-friendly’ means we treat your child as our own and our emergency rooms are prepared for when your child needs help.

You can check out our scores on the National Pediatric Readiness Project here. Find out more about our ERs or find the ER closest to you here. Our ER locations include:

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