Preparing for Disasters: Keeping Kids in Mind


New national recommendations released by Dell Children’s trauma surgeon

AUSTIN, Texas – (July 25, 2016) – When a child is severely injured and seconds count, care at a pediatric trauma center that’s equipped with doctors and nurses specially trained in caring for infants and children can greatly improve chances of survival.

Today, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released new recommendations on improving trauma care for children, emphasizing the importance of a separate care plan for mass casualty and disaster preparedness.David Tuggle 2013_mg_0008

Dell Children’s is a national leader in mass casualty preparedness for children and the only Pediatric Level I Trauma Center in Central Texas. The hospital is also a part of Ascension, the nation’s largest Catholic and nonprofit health care system.

David Tuggle, MD, a pediatric trauma surgeon at Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas, is the lead author of the updated policy which will appear in the August 2016 issue of Pediatrics, the official journal of the AAP.

According to the article, trauma is a leading cause of death in the United States for children ages 1-18 years old. It claims more lives than sudden infant death, cancer and infectious diseases combined. Each year, one in four children will require medical care for an unintentional injury, and those ailments require specialized care, Tuggle points out.

“You can’t just lump kids in with adults,” Tuggle said. “Children have very specific needs and the way you treat them is very different.”

Because children are smaller than adults, they absorb chemical toxins faster. Treatment may require additional attention to emotional needs and special equipment for everything from inserting IVs to intubating babies, he said. Medication dosing is also different for children and adults.

“Say you have 200 elementary school children affected by a chemical disaster– What’s your plan to unify them with their families?”

Additional points about the statement:

  • Currently, there’s no national consensus on how the care of injured children should be handled regionally.
  • The statement incorporates new thinking and offers more guidance for policy makers.
  • The recommendations aim to organize and coordinate regional care for injured children.

As a surveyor for the American College of Surgeons, Tuggle visits hospitals across the country to assess and verify their pediatric trauma care.

He believes Central Texas does disaster planning better than most places because of the work Dell Children’s has been doing for nearly a decade and because Seton has strong working relationships with the other hospitals in town.

“I hope the people who can make care better can use this as a roadmap for the things that are important,” says Tuggle.

Learn more about Trauma Care at Dell Children’s.