News | December 11, 2007

American Heart Association Introduces Pediatric Emergency Assessment, Recognition, Stabilization Course

December 11, 2007 - In order to bridge the training gap between healthcare providers who regularly provide advanced pediatric life support and those who infrequently care for critically ill or injured children, the American Heart Association has created a new intermediate course - Pediatric Emergency Assessment, Recognition, and Stabilization (PEARS).

This course supports healthcare providers who do not regularly provide advanced pediatric life support or are not credentialed for advanced pediatric treatment. Specifically, the AHA says PEARS develops skills in recognizing certain signs and symptoms of a child in cardiopulmonary distress who needs rapid support.

Co-branded with the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), PEARS is a video-based course with instructor-led discussion that takes approximately seven hours to complete. Prevention of cardiac arrest or respiratory failure is the primary focus of the course, as it equips healthcare providers to assess, recognize and begin stabilization of pediatric victims prior to arrest. Because the providers for whom PEARS is intended do not regularly treat critically ill children, the course utilizes several unique visual cues and learning tools to help students recognize the signs of distress and to teach and reinforce the most relevant steps in handling a child at risk of cardiopulmonary arrest. One of the unique tools used in the course is video-based simulation, which enables providers to see and hear critically ill children. Students also participate in and practice various skills at learning stations, after which they must pass skills tests and a final written exam. Upon course completion, students receive AHA PEARS certification.

Though it is not a prerequisite for PALS, the AHA says PEARS provides a good foundation for succeeding in PALS, and can serve as a starting point for providers interested in learning more advanced pediatric life support skills.

“The reason we developed the PEARS course was based on feedback from students who had taken PALS and found that it went far beyond their scope of practice,” said Dr. Arno Zaritsky, Paula Koch professor and chief, pediatric critical care medicine, University of Florida College of Medicine. “In pre-release trials, students taking PEARS reported that the course did a much better job of meeting their needs than did PALS, primarily by emphasizing initial recognition and stabilization. Plus, using videos to show patients in distress, rather than just describing a condition, helps make the PEARS course even more powerful.”

Taught only by PALS instructors who are affiliated with an American Heart Association Training Center, the PEARS course prepares students to Assess-Categorize-Decide-Act; intervene early to stabilize the child; and to contact the next level of care as appropriate.

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