Children's Hospital Earns Certificate of Distinction in Pediatric Asthma

For immediate release: March 12, 2007


Media Relations

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Children's Hospital is the only hospital on the East Coast to receive this certification

The University of Maryland Children's Hospital is the first pediatric hospital on the East Coast to receive a certificate of distinction from the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) for its treatment of children with asthma. The designation shows that the Children's Hospital's pediatric asthma program meets rigorous standards for excellent care.

“Asthma continues to be a major health problem in children throughout the United States,” says Steven Czinn, M.D., director of the University of Maryland Children's Hospital and professor and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. “Children with asthma require consistent, ongoing expert care and education to manage their disease. The JCAHO Disease Specific Certification obtained by the pediatric asthma program is evidence of our commitment to providing the highest quality patient care to our children.”

The pediatric asthma program at the Children's Hospital is a unique multidisciplinary initiative that provides a comprehensive approach to pediatric asthma care in the hospital and the emergency room as well as the outpatient setting. The program is lead by a team of pediatric specialists and applies an evidence-based approach to asthma management.

To receive disease-specific care certification, the Children's Hospital, part of the University of Maryland Medical Center, went through a rigorous application process and submitted data on pediatric asthma admissions, treatment plans and outcomes. A JCAHO representative visited the Children's Hospital and conducted interviews with staff and patients. Only 10 other hospitals and organizations in the United States have JCAHO certification for their pediatric and adult asthma programs.

A unique feature of the Children's Hospital program is the use of metered dose inhalers (MDIs) to deliver inhaled medications for the treatment of acute asthma. These inhalers have been shown to minimize medication side effects such as jitteriness, rapid heart rates and vomiting. The use of MDIs also results in lower hospitalization rates.

Another unique feature of the program is the Breathmobile, a mobile clinic that provides free specialty preventive asthma care at schools in Baltimore City and Prince George's County.

The Pediatric Asthma Program also places a strong emphasis on standardized patient education and promoting self-management with the use of asthma action plans. “We are committed to providing care that helps children beyond their inpatient hospital stay,” says Keyvan Rafei, M.D., director of the Children's Hospital Asthma Steering Committee and an assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. “The hope is to prevent further hospitalizations and emergency room visits by providing the educational tools that families need to prevent asthma exacerbations.”

“Patient education and self-management are closely integrated with the medical care children receive throughout their stay at the Children's Hospital. Asthma education is provided through our own educational booklet, which emphasizes the importance of identifying and avoiding asthma triggers and the need for controller medications in patients with persistent chronic asthma,” says Dr. Rafei.

Asthma, which affects about 20 million people in the United States and up to 20 percent of school children in Baltimore, is the third leading cause of hospitalization in children. Symptoms of asthma include:

  • trouble breathing
  • shortness of breath
  • excessive coughing
  • chest tightness
  • wheezing
  • trouble exercising

Twenty percent of school children in Baltimore have asthma, causing them to miss 640,000 days of school each year. Children with asthma are three times as likely to miss school as children without asthma.


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