All children become ill or injured at one time or another. It’s when those injuries and illnesses cannot be cared for by a pediatrician and require careful monitoring that it is considered a critical condition. Pediatric critical care, or the effective and efficient care of children with critical or unstable conditions, is an important and growing sub-specialty in pediatrics.
The number of pediatric intensivists, pediatric intensive care units (PICU’s), and pediatric intensive care beds in the United States have increased dramatically in recent years. Unfortunately, much of the technology and many therapies in pediatric critical care have evolved without adequate study or have been adopted uncritically from adult, neonatal, or anesthetic practice. Because of this, the risks and benefits of much of intensive care practice remains largely unknown.
Research is needed in order to make good decisions regarding effective critical care practices. Yet research in pediatric critical care is difficult as it requires expensive multi-center studies that allow the ability to track many children over time. To meet this challenge, in April 2004 the National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research (NCMRR) of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) put forth a request for applications (RFA) to establish a collaborative pediatric critical care clinical research network, which lead to the establishment of the CPCCRN. Today the CPCCRN has provided an infrastructure to strive for the reduction of some of the biggest challenges in the area of pediatric critical illness and injury, illuminating best practice through clinical and translational science.