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Prehosp Emerg Care. 2000 Jan-Mar;4(1):19-23.

Use of emergency medical services by children with special health care needs.

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Arizona Emergency Medicine Research Center, College of Medicine, University of Arizona, Tucson, USA.



This study describes emergency medical services (EMS) responses for children with special health care needs (CSHCN) in an urban area over a one-year period.


A prospective surveillance system was established to identify EMS responses for children, 21 years of age or younger, with a congenital or acquired condition or a chronic physical or mental illness. Responses related to the special health care needs of the child were compared with unrelated responses.


During a one-year period, 924 responses were identified. Fewer than half of the responses were related to the child's special health care need. Younger children were significantly more likely to have a response related to their special needs than older children. Among related responses, seizure disorder was the most common diagnosis, while asthma was more common for unrelated responses. Almost 58% of the responses resulted in transport of the child to a hospital.


Emergency medical services responses related to a child's special health care needs differ from unrelated responses. The most common special health care needs of children did not require treatment beyond the prehospital care provider's usual standard of care. These results are relevant for communities providing EMS services for CSHCN.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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