Analysis of Child Passenger Safety Restraint Use at a Pediatric Emergency Department

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Abstract

Purpose:

The objectives of the study were to determine the number of children properly restrained during transit to a pediatric emergency department for care and to ascertain parental knowledge of Alabama laws and American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) guidelines and where they obtain this information.

Methods:

An emergency department (patient care rooms) waiting area, convenience sample of Alabama parents who have children younger than or 13 years of age were surveyed over a 5-week period. Appropriate use of child passenger safety (CPS) restraints was determined using Alabama law and AAP recommendations. Use of Car Seat Checks provided by Children's Hospital and Safe Kids, knowledge of Alabama laws and CPS guidelines, and the source of information used by parents were ascertained.

Results:

Among 525 patients identified, 520 (99.0%) participated. Appropriate use per Alabama law and AAP guidelines was 72.3% and 60.6%, respectively; 5.0% were unrestrained. Booster seats were the most commonly misused restraint. Car seats were reportedly used correctly by 81.9%. Parents who had used the Car Seat Checks program had correct booster seat and car seat use rates of 95.8% and 61.5%, respectively. Unfortunately, only 31.2% of patients had knowledge of the Car Seat Checks program, and only 40.6% knew the current law. Most often, parents stated that the hospital where their child was born was the primary (and sometimes only) source of CPS information.

Conclusions:

This study illustrates the need for improving parental knowledge of appropriate child passenger restraint use (especially booster seats) and Car Seat Checks programs. Car seat program assistance is associated with high levels of appropriate use.

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