searchers, providers, and professional organizations across the spectrum of emergency care, is well positioned to assume this leadership role. But additional resources are necessary so the program will have the capacity to rapidly address the deficiencies in the pediatric emergency care system for children. The committee recommends that Congress appropriate $37.5 million per year for the next 5 years to the Emergency Medical Services for Children program (3.7).

The proposed 5-year period is not intended as a limit on federal funding dedicated to improving pediatric emergency care; indeed, there will always be a need to monitor and study pediatric emergency care. However, the hope is that the various components of leadership in emergency care at the federal level will be better integrated in the future. Pediatric emergency care will always remain an important piece of that federal leadership, but may not require a separate, stand-alone program. After 5 years, it will be necessary to reevaluate how best to identify and fund pediatric emergency care objectives at the federal level. Future funding levels for the EMS-C program must also be reevaluated.

CONCLUDING REMARKS

The quality of the U.S. emergency care system is of critical importance to all Americans. Regardless of income, insurance status, race, ethnicity, geography, or age, everyone relies on the emergency care system to provide needed care in the event of a critical illness or injury. Although the current system operates poorly in many respects, a more reliable system is achievable. Change must be stimulated quickly, however, as millions of Americans continue to access this flawed system each week.

As reforms to the broader emergency care system are accomplished, policy makers at the federal, state, and local levels must not repeat mistakes made in previous decades by neglecting the special needs of pediatric patients. Consideration of those needs must be fully integrated into all aspects of emergency care planning. Individual providers (physicians, nurses, EMTs, and others), as well as provider organizations, also have an important role to play in stimulating improvements in pediatric emergency care. Indeed, they have a responsibility to ensure that care delivered to children meets the highest possible standards of quality.



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