ERs Fail To Educate Parents On Child Safety Restraints
March 6, 2013

ERs Don’t Do Enough To Educate Parents On Child Seat Safety

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

Emergency departments are not doing enough to make sure parents are properly educated about car seats and the proper use of safety restraints, researchers claim in a new study.

According to researcher from the University of Michigan (UM), more than 130,000 children under the age of 13 are treated annually in urgent care facilities as a result of injuries sustained in automobile crashes. However, the researchers said that more than one-third of emergency room physicians admit that they are not sure that their departments are providing moms and dads with enough information about child passenger safety restraints.

Furthermore, the study — which was published in the journal Pediatric Emergency Care — found that fewer than half of the physicians interviewed said that parents of two-year-olds being released following such an incident would have been provided with tips on the proper use of car seats as part of their discharge instructions.

“Unfortunately, our research showed that many emergency physicians are not aware of community resources for child passenger safety,” lead author Michelle L. Macy, MD, MS, a clinical lecturer in the university´s Emergency Medicine and Pediatrics/Communicable Diseases, said in a statement. "We know the visit to the emergency department is a crucial opportunity to prevent future injuries.”

"Families are frequently discharged following a car crash without referrals to local resources where parents can obtain additional information about child safety seats. This is concerning because child safety seats are complicated, and serious misuses are common,” she explained, adding that “fewer than 15 percent of children seeking emergency care in the US are seen in an emergency department with specialized pediatric services. “¦ So there's a huge number of physicians out there who may not have specialized pediatric resources available for their patients.”

According to the researchers, motor-vehicle crashes are one of the leading causes of death among children under the age of four, and the number one killer of older children in the US. Part of the reason for that, they argue, is the fact that one out of every five one-to-three year old kids and nearly half of four-through-seven year olds do not use the recommended car restraints for their age group.

Macy and her colleagues at the University of Michigan hope that their research will inspire more emergency departments to make sure that they provide adequate restraint-related resources and information to parents. "It will be the kids that benefit, if their parents get the right information about how to use restraints and prevent injuries," Macy said.