Nearly 5,000 children in the UK were admitted to intensive care with respiratory problems last year, a 67 per cent rise since 2005.

More worrying is the fact that the mortality rate of these patients more than double that of America and Australia.

Dr Roger Parslow, who conducted the survey on behalf of PICANet (Pediatric Intensive Care Audit Network) said:"Our work on asthma shows it is important for clinical audits, to work with doctors and nurses to help them provide the best quality of care to children in paediatric intensive care units though it is still extremely rare for children to die in this type of specialist care."

The report which looked at over 50,000 admissions across Britain showed that despite overall mortality rates in intensive care falling from 4.5 to 3.8 per cent in the last two years, the number of children who do not survive having required help with their breathing has now risen to 4.7 per cent.

"It is concerning that the death rate in England and Wales for asthma admissions to paediatric intensive care units is relatively high compared to other developed countries," said Dr Andrew Durward of Evelina's Children's Hospital in London, whose team will now look into the reasons why it so much higher than the two per cent average of other major nations.

One of the potential causes may have also been identified by the report which showed that two-thirds of paediatric intensive care units have less than the recommended number of nurses.

Another of the researchers, Professor Elizabeth Draper, said: "Following the revision of these [qualified nursing staff] standards in line with the Royal College of Nursing, fewer than 40 per cent of units achieve the required levels."

Only 13 out of 34 units surveyed had at least one qualified nurse for every two patients, a situation which the Royal College of Nursing's executive director, Janet Davies, believes is "deeply worrying" and something that "urgently needs adressing."

A National Review of Asthma Deaths has now been commissioned by the Health Quality Improvement Partnership (HQIP).        



The full PICANet report is available here.

Posted October 10th, 2011 at 1315 by