More than 6.5 million children in the United States, approximately 13% of all students, miss 15 or more days of school each year. The rates of chronic absenteeism vary between states, communities, and schools, with significant disparities based on income, race, and ethnicity. Chronic school absenteeism, starting as early as preschool and kindergarten, puts students at risk for poor school performance and school dropout, which in turn, put them at risk for unhealthy behaviors as adolescents and young adults as well as poor long-term health outcomes. Pediatricians and their colleagues caring for children in the medical setting have opportunities at the individual patient and/or family, practice, and population levels to promote school attendance and reduce chronic absenteeism and resulting health disparities. Although this policy statement is primarily focused on absenteeism related to students’ physical and mental health, pediatricians may play a role in addressing absenteeism attributable to a wide range of factors through individual interactions with patients and their parents and through community-, state-, and federal-level advocacy.
Pediatricians render care in an increasingly complex environment, which results in multiple opportunities to cause unintended harm. National awareness of patient safety risks has grown since the National Academy of Medicine (formerly the Institute of Medicine) published its report "To Err Is Human: Building a Safer Health System" in 1999. Patients and society as a whole continue to challenge health care providers to examine their practices and implement safety solutions. The depth and breadth of harm incurred by the practice of medicine is still being defined as reports continue to reveal a variety of avoidable errors, from those that involve specific high-risk medications to those that are more generalizable, such as patient misidentification and diagnostic error. Pediatric health care providers in all practice environments benefit from having a working knowledge of patient safety language. Pediatric providers should serve as advocates for best practices and policies with the goal of attending to risks that are unique to children, identifying and supporting a culture of safety, and leading efforts to eliminate avoidable harm in any setting in which medical care is rendered to children. In this Policy Statement, we provide an update to the 2011 Policy Statement "Principles of Pediatric Patient Safety: Reducing Harm Due to Medical Care."
Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) are the most commonly used tobacco product among youth. The 2016 US Surgeon General’s Report on e-cigarette use among youth and young adults concluded that e-cigarettes are unsafe for children and adolescents. Furthermore, strong and consistent evidence finds that children and adolescents who use e-cigarettes are significantly more likely to go on to use traditional cigarettes—a product that kills half its long-term users. E-cigarette manufacturers target children with enticing candy and fruit flavors and use marketing strategies that have been previously successful with traditional cigarettes to attract youth to these products. Numerous toxicants and carcinogens have been found in e-cigarette solutions. Nonusers are involuntarily exposed to the emissions of these devices with secondhand and thirdhand aerosol. To prevent children, adolescents, and young adults from transitioning from e-cigarettes to traditional cigarettes and minimize the potential public health harm from e-cigarette use, there is a critical need for e-cigarette regulation, legislative action, and counterpromotion to protect youth.