Many Florida children taken to adult trauma centers, not pediatric facilities with deadly results

Action News reports on an alarming issue that is becoming prevalent not only in north Florida but all over Florida.  Many children in Florida are taken to adult care centers in an emergency instead of pediatric facilities, which are equipped to handle traumas.  A young 9 year old  was a Pop Warner football star in Jacksonville was the subject of the issue a couple years ago.  Back in April of 2012, he crossed a busy street in Jacksonville, trying to get some snacks at a nearby convenience store when a car collided with him.  Paramedics found Davis unconscious in the road. According to the Tampa Bay Times, his skull was fractured and his brain was swelling and bleeding. The Times said, instead of taking him to the pediatric facility, paramedics took him to an adult trauma center which was closer.But they couldn’t treat his brain injuries, and by the time medical personnel got him to a pediatric center it was too late. Justin never woke up.  The Times reports that Florida guidelines require children with traumatic injuries to be treated at facilities that specialize in pediatric care. But, often they are taken to a closer adult care center instead.
The Times calls it an unintended consequence of Florida’s trauma system expanding.  The Times looked at cases from the last four years, finding more than 100 patients under the age of 16 who wound up at new trauma centers, and more than 60 children had to be transferred to another hospital.
The Times analyzed thousands of hospital billing records for children who were taken to Florida trauma centers over the past four years. Among the findings:
¢‚More than 100 patients under 16 wound up at HCA’s new trauma centers even though none of those hospitals are designated by the state to treat children. More than 60 had to be transferred to another hospital for treatment.
¢‚Transfers meant delays of hours, not minutes. In one case, a 13-year-old girl with a concussion and a broken forearm waited more than four hours before she was transferred to another hospital.
¢‚At least three children died after they were first taken to an HCA trauma center for adults despite meeting state criteria to go to a pediatric center. Those children then had to be transferred to get the care they needed. Their injuries may have proven fatal regardless of where they went. But in each case, time would have been saved if the child had been taken directly to a pediatric trauma center.
¢‚Ultimately, paramedics decide where to take an injured child. But the HCA hospitals have a say too. Paramedics contact the hospitals in advance and staff could direct them to a pediatric trauma center.
¢‚The cost can be high, even for children with relatively minor injuries. HCA charged as much as $33,000 last year to patients just for showing up at their trauma centers, even if they can’t be treated and are shipped to another hospital within minutes
Florida has designated 13 hospitals as pediatric trauma centers. Most Floridians live about 50 miles or less from a pediatric-designated trauma center ” close enough that they can expect their children to be taken to one if they suffer a serious injury. But HCA has been opening new adult centers within that distance from the children’s hospitals.  (Click here to see the map

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