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A new article published in the journal Pediatric Emergency Care adds valuable data that should further distinguish urgent care centers from retail health outlets commonly seen in community drugstores. Lead author Robert Wilkinson, DO and colleagues set out to quantify how prepared urgent care centers are for emergencies involving younger patients per guidelines issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics. They found it is typical for urgent care centers to have what it deems “essential medications and equipment” on site for immediate use as needed, including an oxygen source (available in 75% of the urgent care centers participating), nebulized/inhaled β-agonist (95%), intravenous epinephrine (88%), oxygen masks/nasal cannula (89%), bag-valve-mask resuscitator (81%), suctioning device (60%), and automated external defibrillator (80%). In addition, many centers have written emergency plans covering blunt chest or abdominal injury (81%), dehydration/shock (69%), significant fracture (69%), neck injury (67%), seizures (67%), head injury (59%), and respiratory distress (40%). The researchers also reported that, among the participating clinics, the most common diagnoses for pediatric patients included otitis media (72%), upper respiratory illness (69%), strep pharyngitis (61%), bronchiolitis (30%), and extremity sprain/strain (28%). A total of 872 electronic questionnaires were distributed to urgent care centers across the country, with 122 useable responses returned (a rate of 14%).

Pediatric Emergency Care Finds Most Urgent Care Sites Well Prepared