Taking steps to save children’s lives in emergency departments costs little for hospitals, study finds

  • Published June 11, 2024
health care cost


Contact: Emily Lemiska


(AUSTIN, Texas) A new study has found that following national guidelines on pediatric care in emergency departments (EDs) costs between $4 and $48 per patient. The study, published June 3 in the Journal of the American College of Emergency Physicians Open, is one of the first to investigate the financial implications of following these national guidelines, also known as being “pediatric ready.”

Researchers say the cost is low when considering the return on investment: evidence shows becoming highly pediatric ready can reduce mortality by as much as 76%. But a recent assessment found many EDs are not fully prepared for pediatric cases, especially critical ones.

For comparison, researchers point to the mean price – $65 – of a single dose through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s childhood vaccination program.

"Our findings underscore the importance of investing in pediatric readiness in EDs,” says lead author Kate Remick, MD, FAAP, FAEMS, an emergency physician at the Dell School of Medicine at The University of Texas at Austin. “While there are associated costs, they are minimal when considering the potential survival benefits."

"Research has continually demonstrated that becoming pediatric ready saves children’s lives,” adds Marianne Gausche-Hill, MD, FACEP, FAAP, co-first author and an emergency physician at The Lundquist Institute for Biomedical Innovation at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. “Now we have evidence that doing so is also highly achievable for every ED, no matter its size or resources.”

Gausche-Hill and Remick are co-directors of the National Pediatric Readiness Project, which helps EDs assess and improve their pediatric capabilities. The project’s most recent assessment of EDs found a median score of 70 out of 100, below the 88-point threshold associated with improved survival.

EDs can learn more and take steps to become pediatric ready – including participating in an open assessment – through the NPRP website.

About the National Pediatric Readiness Project

The National Pediatric Readiness Project (PRP) is a federally funded initiative of the Health Resources and Services Administration's Emergency Medical Services for Children Program in partnership with the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Emergency Physicians, and the Emergency Nurses Association. The project empowers emergency departments nationwide to improve their “pediatric readiness” or capability to care for acutely ill and injured children. High pediatric readiness has been shown to reduce pediatric mortality by as much as 76%. Learn more at www.pediatricreadiness.org.

About the EMSC Program

For 40 years, the Emergency Medical Services for Children (EMSC) Program has strived to ensure that—no matter where a child lives—the health systems in their area provide high-quality, equitable emergency care. Learn more through the EMSC’s Innovation and Improvement Center (EIIC) website: https://emscimprovement.center/. The EIIC is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of award U07MC37471 totaling $2.5M with 0 percent financed with nongovernmental sources. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by HRSA, HHS, or the U.S. Government. For more information, visit HRSA.gov.