To characterize resources available for the care of critically ill and injured children in the United States.
In January through May 2004, we conducted a cross-sectional survey of medical directors of intensive care facilities for children.
Pediatric critical care medical directors from 257 of 337 eligible hospitals responded to the survey (response rate: 76%). The median number of beds was 12 (interquartile range: 8-17 beds), with a median of 58 admissions per PICU bed (interquartile range: 44-70 admissions per PICU bed) in 2003. The median numbers of admissions per PICU bed were not statistically different among PICUs of different sizes. Fewer than 6% of hospitals shared PICU space with space for critically ill adults. The smallest units (1-6 beds) had higher physician and nurse staffing ratios per PICU bed. Advanced therapeutic technology, particularly renal replacement and inhaled nitric oxide therapy, was significantly more likely to be available in larger PICUs (> or =7 beds).
PICUs with the fewest beds had higher physician and nurse staffing ratios per PICU bed and lower resource capacity for high-intensity renal and respiratory therapy. The impact of PICU resource availability on referral patterns and outcomes of pediatric critical illnesses warrants additional study.