Do pediatric and adult disaster victims differ? A descriptive analysis of clinical encounters from four natural disaster DMAT deployments. Academic Article uri icon


  • The differences between pediatric (< or = 17 years of age) and adult clinical field encounters were analyzed from four deployments of Disaster Medical Assistance Teams (DMATs).A retrospective cohort review of all patients who presented to DMAT field clinics during two hurricanes, one earthquake, and one flood was conducted. Descriptive statistics were used to analyze: (1) age; (2) gender; (3) severity category level; (4) chief complaint; (5) treatments provided; (6) discharge diagnosis; and (7) disposition. Five subsets of pediatric patients were analyzed further.Of the 2,196 patient encounters reviewed, 643 (29.5%) encounters were pediatric patients. Pediatric patients had a greater number of blank severity category levels than adults. Pediatric patients also were: (1) more likely to present with chief complaints of upper respiratory infections or wounds; (2) less likely to present with musculoskeletal pain or abdominal pain; and (3) equally likely to present with rashes. Pediatric patients were more likely to receive antibiotics, pain medication, and antihistamines, but were equally likely to need treatment for wounds. Dispositions to the hospital were less frequent for pediatric patients than for adults.Pediatric patients represent a substantial proportion of disaster victims at DMAT field clinics. They often necessitate special care requirements different from their adult counterparts. Pediatric-specific severity category criteria, treatment guidelines, equipment/medication stocks, and provider training are warranted for future DMAT response preparations.

publication date

  • February 2007