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Pediatr Crit Care Med. 2012 Jan;13(1):e1-4. doi: 10.1097/PCC.0b013e3181fe390a.

Pediatric mass critical care in a pandemic.

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Department of Pediatrics, State University of New York Upstate Medical University, Syracuse, NY, USA.



Previous simulation studies suggest that temporary pediatric mass critical care approaches would accommodate plausible hypothetical sudden-impact public health emergencies. However, the utility of sustained pediatric mass critical care responses in prolonged pandemics has not been evaluated. The objective of this study was to compare the ability of a typical region to serve pediatric intensive care unit needs in hypothetical pandemics, with and without mass critical care responses sufficient to triple usual pediatric intensive care unit capacity. DESIGN, SETTING, PATIENTS, AND INTERVENTIONS: The Monte Carlo simulation method was used to model responses to hypothetical pandemics on the basis of national historical evidence regarding pediatric intensive care unit admission and length of stay in pandemic and nonpandemic circumstances. Assuming all ages are affected equally, federal guidelines call for plans to serve moderate and severe pandemics requiring pediatric intensive care unit care for 457 and 5,277 infants and children per million of the population, respectively.


A moderate pandemic would exceed ordinary surge capacity on 13% of pandemic season days but would always be accommodated by mass critical care approaches. In a severe pandemic, ordinary surge methods would accommodate all the patients on only 32% of pandemic season days and would accommodate 39% of needed patient days. Mass critical care approaches would accommodate all the patients on 82% of the days and would accommodate 64% of all patient days.


Mass critical care approaches would be essential to extend care to the majority of infants and children in a severe pandemic. However, some patients needing critical care still could not be accommodated, requiring consideration of rationing.

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