“Kids aren’t just small adults.”

So says Dr. Jack Percelay, an official with the American Academy of Pediatrics, who cites a close connection between that misconception and the medical mistakes that are sometimes visited upon children.

A recently issued report authored by the Dartmouth Atlas Project addresses why children often receive inappropriate care and why that care is not consistently rendered across the nation’s medical facilities. The study is both eye-opening and provocative, and we believe it might be of interest to our readers in New Jersey and elsewhere.

Here is one central finding that emerged from the project’s scrutiny of care rendered to children under the age of 18 in three states: Patients at a locale in one state had their tonsils removed at more than twice the rate that was observed in a city in another nearby state.

As described in a media article discussing the study, other “wide variations in care” were also observed by the Dartmouth research team. Those included disparate rates of CT scans administered in locales across the study area, and highly differentiated rates of emergency room visits by juveniles.

The report’s lead author, Dr. David Goodman, says that such treatment inconsistency “raises troubling questions,” including whether care received is commonly based upon patient need or, instead, “the result of physician and hospital practice styles.”

Percelay and Goodman stress that treatment inconsistency across medical institutions must be addressed and that variations in matters ranging from medication prescribing to recommended diagnostic testing need to be minimized. Promoting those goals, they say, requires a stronger focus on formulating and disseminating quality measures.

“It’s time to stop this talking about variation,” says Percelay, “and do things about it.”

Source: ModernHealthcare.com, “Pediatric care varies due to doc preference, not patient need, Dartmouth report says,” Andis Robeznieks, Dec. 11, 2013