Every year in the United States, 130,000 children under the age of 13 visit a hospital emergency room after a car accident. Many of these children are very young. In fact, our Portland, OR accident attorneys know that car accidents are the number one cause of death for kids under age four.
Unfortunately, as kids get treatment for car accidents in hospitals throughout Oregon and throughout the U.S., the hospitals are missing out on an important opportunity to help keep these kids safe in the event that they are ever in a future crash.
Hospitals Failing to Educate Parents After Car Accidents
When kids go to a hospital after a car crash, the occasion presents the perfect time to educate parents on the proper use of child restraint devices, including car seats. This education is sorely needed and could help save the lives of children in the future in case they are ever involved in another accident.
Unfortunately, as a recent study published in Pediatric Emergency Care indicated, around 20 percent of kids between the ages of one and three years old are not secured properly in the recommended passenger restraint device. For kids ages four to seven, the number of kids not properly restrained jumps up to almost half. Finally, even though parents do use car seats for young infants under age one, many do not use the car seats correctly.
With so many children not properly secured, hospitals should provide parents who bring their kids in after a crash with information that can help them to do better on child safety issues in the car. For example, hospitals could provide information about community resources where parents can go to get help using their car seat safely. Unfortunately, very few hospitals are offering information or guidance.
As reported by Healthy Women, the Pediatric Emergency Care Survey revealed that more than 1/3 of doctors weren’t sure if their emergency departments even had any type of information available about proper car seat or child restraint use. The lead author of the study, a clinical lecturer at a hospital affiliated with the University of Michigan, expressed concern that emergency room physicians were not even aware of resources that could potentially help parents to protect their kids if a crash ever occurred again.
Parents of kids visiting pediatric care centers were more likely to get the information they need on safe restraint use, but kids were more likely to go to general emergency rooms after car accidents than to go to specialized pediatric treatment centers. This means that very few parents are getting necessary information about car seat use or safety restraint use, even when they have already had to bring their child to the hospital because of a crash.
The authors of the study believe that their findings should prompt a change in policy in emergency rooms so parents who come to the hospital after an accident get the details they need to keep their kids safe. Parents should also be informed about NHTSA guidelines on when to replace a car seat after a crash. If the air bags deployed, if the car couldn’t drive away from the crash, if anyone was injured or if there was intrusion into the car, then the baby seat should be replaced.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident in the Portland area, contact Zbinden & Curtis. Call (503) 287-5000.