Adequate Healthcare for Our Nation's Children

Should pediatricians be doing more? Neither the pediatrician's office nor the children's hospital I've visited lately make available to parents the information that the AAP would like for people to consider.

You gotta love it — a needle-free powder lidocaine delivery system called the Zingo, indicated for use prior to venipuncture or cannulation in children aged 3 to 18 years. The device was FDA approved for marketing last August, and Pediatrics published the supporting Phase 3 study online a few days ago. It uses compressed helium to push the lidocaine under the skin, and is evidently well tolerated. Nice.

I’m going to consider that news an early Mother’s Day gift, since my 7-year-old “needlephobe” is undergoing minor surgery later on this summer. Also in time for Mother’s Day is momScore, a new online interactive tool providing information regarding maternal and early childhood health by state in the U.S. Based on data gathered largely from the EPA, CDC, the U.S. Census Bureau and various non-profits, states are ranked based on quality indicators of maternal and early childhood health.

This information may be useful to share via practice newsletter or website, as it provides parents and parents-to-be with a snapshot of their state’s “report card” and some food for thought. The color-coded map presented to the viewer is quite striking in that you can almost see a line running straight across the country, with the southern states ranking much lower than those in the north. And the disparity between states in many of these indicators is disconcerting.

Perhaps it takes a picture to illustrate just how poorly basic healthcare policy is addressed in this country. Coupled with recent news from Save the Children regarding how the United States ranks internationally among developed countries with respect to maternal and child healthcare, there’s ample indication that we’re not doing a particularly good job of caring for our kids. And being ranked behind Hungary and the Czech Republic (which, by the way, is where our country was last year) as well as the open debate in the past couple of years regarding SCHIP funding hasn’t seemed to instill the political will needed for any real change of policy. (Read more on the topic in our Featured Story, “Insufficient Healthcare Increases Child Fatality Rates."

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has been trying to do its part in advocating for adequate healthcare for all our nation’s children, but without much help from the media. And in support of that end, should pediatricians be doing more? Neither the pediatrician’s office nor the children’s hospital I’ve visited lately make available to parents the information that the AAP would like for people to consider. Should they? I mean, the AAP offers fact sheets, a link to the Anna E. Casey Foundation’s Kids Count Data Book, and plenty of information on community-based advocacy. Is it where parents have ready access? Can people really see the need that pediatricians see?

What do you think is the role of practitioners in supporting the AAP’s goals, especially given the current state of children’s healthcare in our country? In preparation for Mother’s Day, perhaps we could share thoughts on the matter. I know I’d like to read your comments.