Is it better to take my child to a pediatrics hospital for critical care?

Norris S. Payne, MD
Yes, critical care for a child is best provided by highly trained pediatric professionals in a pediatric hospital. Pediatric intensive care units are fully staffed with medical teams who possess years of education and experience in treating sick infants and children. Children often get sick and develop serious, life threatening complications much quicker than adults. The nurses and doctors in a pediatric hospital intensive care unit are able to recognize the early signs of potentially serious complications, allowing rapid, aggressive treatment to prevent permanent disability or death. Diseases such as meningitis, shock, internal bleeding, brain swelling, failure of the lungs, heart, liver or kidneys must be recognized and treated in the early stages to adequately prevent damage to a child's developing, fragile organs. Should emergency surgery or other interventions be required, pediatric hospitals are staffed around the clock by specially trained pediatric surgeons, anethesiologists, nurses, operating rooms and recovery rooms, all equipped and ready for use at a moment's notice. Serious diseases of children often differ from those of adults, requiring a different set of diagnostic skills, procedures, medications and treatments which may not be well understood or easily available in general hospitals. Pediatric specialists also better understand how to effectively treat a child's pain and suffering, one of the most important issues in the care of any critically ill child. Pediatric hospitals are typically associated with academic centers and thus well staffed with pediatric specialists of every field who may be called in on an emergency basis to consult and provide the most up-to-date, advanced treatment options available, often making the difference between ultimate success and failure in the treatment of a critically ill child. When treated by highly trained,  experienced pediatric professionals in a pediatric hospital, a critically ill child has the best chance of a rapid recovery and an excellent outcome in a child friendly, comforting environment most condusive to healing.  Pediatric intensivists are indeed a different and exceedingly special breed of doctors and nurses, dedicated warriors often referred to by grateful parents as heroes and angels.
Eliza Parker
Eliza Parker on behalf of MDLIVE
It is absolutely better to take a child who requires critical/intensive care to a children's hospital or one that has a "pediatric intensive care unit." The truth is, however, that a child that requires this level of care will be transferred to such an institution. The most important thing to remember if you have a critically ill child is to go to an emergency room or call 911 and have the ambulance take you to the nearest appropriate facility. Once you are there the physicians and health care workers will get you to the closest and best facility for your child.
Debra Giusto
Pediatric Nursing

Yes, it is better to take your child to a pediatrics hospital for critical care. The staff in a pediatric hospital is trained to care for the medical and psychosocial needs of the child and their family. The pediatric staff has knowledge about growth and development of the child from birth to adolescents. This knowledge helps staff to communicate with the child and family and to plan the child's care and activities as related to the child's age.

Diana K. Blythe, MD
It is better to take your child to a pediatrics hospital for critical care, if one is available. Not only are they more likely to have any needed specialist care available onsite, but the staff are better able to deal with children. While the medical care is the most important part of a pediatrics hospital, a child-friendly environment greatly improves recovery and well-being.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.