The article “National hospital initiative targets preventable injuries,” in the most recent issue of Contemporary Pediatrics, describes 35 years of impressive work by a nationwide coalition of concerned pediatricians and pediatric trauma surgeons who have championed hospital, school-based, and community-wide initiatives to reduce the prevalence and incidence of unintentional injuries in children.
The Injury Free Coalition for Kids (www.injuryfree.org/), in existence for 20 years, has grown to 42 member sites at Level 1 Trauma Centers across the United States serving children and their families. Leaders at each site have mined area-specific unintentional injury data to reveal their root sources and then brainstormed programs to mitigate them—from protecting children from severe scald burns related to microwave ovens, to reducing bike helmet injuries, to stemming neighborhood gun violence.
Despite the Coalition’s efforts, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, 2014) statistics for children aged from birth to 21 years are alarming: Over half a million children are injured as an occupant in a motor vehicle accident; 160,037 children are victims of poisoning; and burns affect more than 134,000 children.
Owning injury prevention
Truly, prevention of unintentional injuries in the pediatric population is a topic that transcends all professions. Every professional who works with children on a daily basis has encountered the aftermath of a child who has experienced an unintentional injury who must remain out of school, away from friends—and perhaps family—for extended periods of time during a recovery period. In addition, children may be affected for their entire life based on the nature of the unintentional injury experienced.
The Injury Free Coalition for Kids website provides valuable, free information for providers and for parents. Please review this site and consider ways to incorporate its information into all of your pediatric nurse practitioner (NP) practices. There is an annual injury-free conference that is open to all healthcare providers and students, community leaders, educators, law enforcement personnel, and firefighters. Research in the field of unintentional injury prevention is encouraged, and was a main objective of the 2016 annual conference.
In addition, the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners has an Injury Education and Prevention special interest group (SIG) open to all members. The SIG provides a link to SafetyLit (www.safetylit.org/) that provides “abstracts of reports from researchers who work in more than 30 distinct professional disciplines with a focus on preventing unintentional injuries, violence, and self-harm.” The standard of practice for nurse practitioners, school-based nurses, and inpatient and outpatient nurses is to routinely provide anticipatory guidance about unintentional injuries to parents and children/adolescents during each clinical encounter.
I encourage all NPs to review this article, compare the anticipatory guidance that is currently provided; make changes based on a review of unintentional injury prevention websites; and refer parents to the website to learn more about unintentional injury prevention activities.
Tag team and engage
Further, I would ask that master and doctoral students, as well as practicing NP clinicians, become actively involved in research endeavors at your local level to reduce the prevalence and incidence of unintentional injuries in your hospitals, outpatient settings, and communities. Connect with pediatricians and pediatric trauma surgeons at one of the Coalition’s 42 sites to learn how to actively engage in efforts to reduce unintentional injuries in the pediatric population. You know best the specific threats to child safety where you live and practice. Harnessing that knowledge and building on the Coalition’s field-tested local action model can change the trajectory of unintentional injury right there in your community.