Austin doctor pushes for national pediatric care plan

When a child is badly hurt: every second counts. Getting that child to a trauma center with the right doctors and equipment can be life-saving.

An Austin surgeon has partnered with the American Academy of Pediatrics to recommend big changes that he says can save more lives in Central Texas and the rest of the country.

When it comes to the emergency room, treating kids and adults are two different ball games. That's why Doctor David Tuggle along with the American Academy of Pediatrics wrote new recommendations for the nation to consider. He particularly wants to create a separate care plan for disasters or mass casualty situations.

“We would hope that the federal government would actually use this as a template to say this is how you need to take care of children all over the U.S.,” Tuggle said.

Trauma is the leading cause of death in kids one to 18. In his plan, Tuggle suggests having a certain plan for things like a chemical disaster at an elementary school. He says kids absorb toxins faster than adults because of their smaller sizes.

“It's a problem to lump children, especially in a mass casualty event, into how you take care of adults because they need so many different things,” he said.

Tuggle visits hospitals across the nation as a surveyor, so he has a snapshot of care in the U.S. He says right now, children tend to go to the nearest hospital, or later get transferred to Dell Children's of Central Texas. It's the only level one trauma center in the area. This can delay care.

“In given regions, the children tend to funnel to one or two given hospitals and that regional organization is not consistent within the United States, “ he said.

The article was published in the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Tuggle is hoping Central Texas can lead by example, and lawmakers adopt the recommendations in the policy.

Dr. Tuggle has several major agencies backing him up like the American College of Surgeons, Society of Trauma Nurses, and many more.