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Staff Ratio Fails to Keep up with Rise in Admission of Children to ICUs

First Posted: Sep 30, 2014 06:39 AM EDT

A new study finds that more children are being admitted to the intensive care units in England and Wales, but the staff ratio is inadequate to deal with the occupied beds.

The collaborative study led by researchers at the University of Leeds and University of Leicester found a rise in the number of children being admitted in to intensive care units. But sadly, there are fewer staff per bed available to balance the increase.

According to the Pediatric Intensive Care Audit Network (PICANet), a 15 percent rise was noticed in the admission of children across a 10 year period between 2004 - 2013. The report simultaneously highlights a 4 percent increase that was not due to the changes in the childhood population. It was during this time that the staffing levels rose by 36 percent but this rise, however, did not match the 40 percent increase in pediatric intensive care beds.

Dr Michael Marsh, representing the independent PICANet Steering Group, commented: "The last twenty years has brought phenomenal improvements in the outcomes of critically ill children in England and Wales. This is in part due to systematic organisation of paediatric intensive care services and improvements in the quality of care provided. It would be a tragedy to see these improvements compromised by failures to attend to proper staffing of units."

PICANet gathered data on admissions to pediatric intensive care in England as well as Wales since 2002 and also included Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. During the 10 year report they looked at the details of 134,000 admissions to English and Welsh units of children of age 0-15 years over the period of 2004-2013.

Professor Liz Draper from the University of Leicester said: "Paediatric intensive care units continue to have difficulty achieving the Paediatric Intensive Care Society standards for nursing care. Over time, the complexity of care that some of these children have required has increased, yet staffing levels have not risen to meet this need. A large number of cases require more than one nurse to attend to a child in a paediatric intensive care bed, so there is still great pressure on these nursing staff to deliver under often very difficult conditions."

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