Pediatric Surge Crisis Response
Last updated March 3, 2023
A national shortage of pediatric beds as the result of a 19% decline in pediatric inpatient units over 10 years — coupled with a surge in pediatric cases due respiratory illnesses — has led to an unprecedented capacity crisis in pediatric care nationwide. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, as of early November, more than three-quarters of the country’s pediatric inpatient beds were occupied. (And this number is likely an underestimate.)
Resources for all settings (hospital and prehospital)
Compiled by the Pediatric Pandemic Network (PPN), the Emergency Medical Services for Children (EMSC) Innovation and Improvement Center, Gulf 7-Pediatric Disaster Network, Region V for Kids, and the Western Regional Alliance for Pediatric Emergency Medicine, this document includes:
- surge response recommendations
- resources for right now (e.g. clinical guidance on respiratory illnesses in children)
- resources for pediatric preparedness (e.g. preparing for future crises and everyday emergencies)
The Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response (ASPR) Technical Resources, Assistance Center, and Information Exchange (TRACIE) now provides a website to respond to the pediatric surge in viral respiratory illnesses impacting hospital capacity. The website includes a link to the above resources.
Prehospital-specific resources and data
Compiled by the EMSC Innovation and Improvement Center, the EMSC Data Center, and the PPN, this document includes clinical guideline resources, respiratory education, and more for prehospital practitioners.
The Health Resources and Services Administration, in partnership with the PPN and EMSC Program, is also sharing data from the National EMS Information System (NEMSIS) to provide a quantitative view of how the ongoing surge of respiratory illnesses among children is affecting prehospital system
Pediatric surge fact sheet: How did we get here?
Learn about the factors that have contributed to the pediatric respiratory surge crisis -- and how you can help.
Some key media coverage about the crisis.
- A surge in sick children exposed a need for major changes to U.S. hospitals - NPR, March 3 (explores pediatric readiness and respiratory surge and features EIIC and PPN experts)
- This winter's respiratory virus surge revealed problems in how we care for sick kids - NPR, Feb. 24 (interviews with EIIC and PPN experts)
- Why Saving Kids Is Bad Business in America - New York Times, Jan. 3 (mentions EMSC pediatric readiness-related statistic)
- Pediatric ER doctor gives glimpse into front lines of RSV surge: ‘No space anywhere’ - TODAY, Nov. 8
- The Worst Pediatric-Care Crisis in Decades - The Atlantic, Oct. 31
- Is the US facing a potential 'tripledemic' of flu, RSV and COVID-19? - ABC News, Oct. 26
- We May Have Only a Few Months to Prevent the Next Pandemic - New York Times, Oct. 24
- What’s behind an increase in closures of pediatric units - PBS NewsHour, Oct. 15 (highlights 2018 pediatric readiness paper)
- As Hospitals Close Children’s Units, Where Does That Leave Lachlan? - New York Times, Oct. 11 (features the EMSC-driven concept of pediatric readiness and grantee Kate Remick, MD, FACEP)
- A cold virus is creating crises for pediatric hospitals, by Erin Paquette, MD, JD, MBe, The Hill, Oct. 28
- Opinion: It’s not just RSV that’s filling pediatric hospital beds, by Moira Szilagyi, MD, PhD, FAAP, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, CNN, Nov. 3
- Respiratory infection surge sounds a wake-up call for pediatric emergency care, by Marc Auerbach, MD, MSci, an EMSC Program grantee, STAT News, Nov. 3
- I've Never Seen Anything Like This' in the Pediatric ED, by Sage Myers, MD, MSCE, an EMSC Program grantee - Med Page Today, Nov. 10