Shawn Larson, MD, receives award to conduct initiative regarding Florida pediatric trauma preparedness

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Shawn Larson, MD, associate professor of pediatric surgery and director of the UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital Pediatric Trauma and Burn program, received a W. Martin Smith Interdisciplinary Patient Safety Award for his and co-investigator Phyllis L. Hendry’s, MD, proposal for improving Florida pediatric trauma education.

Nationally, more children die from injury than any other cause of child death combined. In Florida, injury continues to be the leading cause of death and disability in children. Larson and Hendry developed a multidisciplinary educational program on pediatric trauma complete with links to Florida and national pediatric trauma resources and best practices. 

When children are injured, they require unique resources and specialized care due to their differences in anatomy and psychological development. Florida possesses a unique trauma system made up of different levels of care, pediatric trauma alert criteria and mandated pediatric trauma continuing education requirements. In trauma injuries, time is critical to good outcomes, and parents often underestimate injury severity and elect to transport children by car or in arms to the emergency department.

“Even in pediatric EDs and Children’s Hospitals, true resuscitations account for less than 1% of volume and critical procedures are rare,” Larson wrote. “This leads to a low volume, high risk situation with a huge emotional burden when a child dies or has a poor outcome.”

This is further compounded by the fact that many community hospitals in Florida no longer possess the capability to provide pediatric care. Meanwhile, free standing EDs have rapidly multiplied.

Thus, the program’s content was developed around clinical cases, addressing rural and urban specific challenges, differences in adult versus pediatric management, and common themes noted in existing trauma center QI programs in an effort to improve clinical preparedness. It also meets the criteria for continuing education for nurses, physicians and paramedics.

The University of Florida W. Martin Smith Interdisciplinary Patient Safety Awards Program is cosponsored by the UF College of Medicine Continuing Medical Education and the UF Self-Insurance Program (SIP). This program provides start-up support for faculty and staff to design and implement projects focused on reducing the likelihood of adverse events or claims and/or patient safety and clinical process improvements.

Larson’s clinical interests include pediatric trauma, pediatric burn care, neonatal surgery, and gastrointestinal surgery (including minimally invasive pediatric surgery).