Hospitals can now access free, expert guidance for developing discharge policies related to CPS. In March, the Hospital CPS Discharge Policy Planning Group, an expert working group convened by NHTSA, released a report titled “Hospital Discharge Recommendations for Safe Transportation of Children.” The purpose of this project, which came about after years of collaboration by multiple organizations and contributors, is to encourage hospitals to address CPS in their discharge policies. It defines “child patient” as any from birth to age 19, including but not limited to those with special healthcare needs.
The policy starts with the statement that hospital CPS policies should be implemented holistically, saying that “CPS is not an issue that should be specific to a given unit within the hospital but, rather, system-wide.” In order for this to happen, participation must come from multiple areas, including:
- Nursing and medical staff
- Risk management
- Trauma services, emergency dept.
- Injury prevention center or program
- Women’s hospital/obstetrics
- Neonatal intensive care unit
- Community outreach
- Human resources/education
- Rehab – OT/PT
- Case management/social work
It further says that CPS policies should explicitly state:
- Which units and patients are covered by the CPS policy.
- Which units house the CPS policies and programs.
- Which individuals are responsible for oversight.
- Which recognized cost center(s) will include CPS activities, so that staff and other resources are appropriately and accurately included in the budget.
- A regular cycle for review of policies and procedures.
In a simple, outline format, it goes on to list many other aspects of the thorough, holistic approach recommended for hospitals, including important steps to manage risk, how the responsibilities of all staff involved should be specified, and the special procedures to adopt for discharging preterm or low-weight infants and children with special needs. It also describes how to ensure quality in CPS outreach by specifying the responsibilities of all staff, identifying the required training and other qualifications of staff who are directly involved with CPS, and by providing guidance for accurate and up-to-date materials. For hospitals that have (or plan to adopt) a low-cost or loaner CR program, elements essential for those specific policies are outlined.