New classification system for hospitals performing pediatric surgery

A new classification system will evaluate hospitals based on their pediatric care capabilities.

As parents, we all hope that our children will remain healthy and never need serious medical intervention.

Sadly, every year about five million babies and children require surgery. The most serious surgical procedures require these youngsters to be put under anesthesia. When a young child must have anesthesia, the risk of surgical complications goes up significantly. For instance, the risk of cardiac arrest is five times higher for babies under one year of age than for adults.

Despite the risks, parents often must make the decision to allow their child to undergo a surgical operation at a young age. Of course, when making such a decision, parents want to ensure they have the best possible medical care for their little one.

Until recently, parents choosing doctors and hospitals to treat their children had to rely on classification systems geared toward the treatment of adults. As the resources needed to treat pediatric surgical patients are different, parents did not always have the most accurate information for choosing a hospital.

Consequently, a national task force took action and created guidelines for designating the best pediatric surgical hospitals in the country. Hospitals are designated as Level I, II or III facilities, indicating the level of care the hospital is capable of providing.

Level I hospitals provide the most comprehensive care, contain a level IV neonatal intensive care unit and are equipped to handle the most serious illnesses. Level II facilities provide advanced surgical care, while level III are equipped to handle only basic pediatric surgical care.

Approximately 200 hospitals are expected to be evaluated under these specifications.

Hold negligent doctors and hospitals responsible

While parents can take some precautions to ensure their child receives the best possible medical care, surgeons and other medical professionals have the ultimate responsibility to provide the highest standard of care for every child they treat.

Parents should ensure their child is being treated at a hospital with a focus on pediatric care. In all, there are around 150 such facilities throughout the country, according to U.S. News and World Report.

In addition, when a specialist is needed, parents should ask for recommendations from a trusted pediatrician. When meeting with the specialist, parents should take the time to ensure they understand the recommendations made by the physician and should seek a second opinion.

If your child has been injured as a result of a medical professional's negligent behavior, you should take prompt action. Consider seeking the counsel of a skilled personal injury attorney, who will work on your behalf to ensure you receive the compensation to which you may be entitled.

Keywords: surgery, children