Equipping pediatric departments, clinics, and private pediatric practices with pediatric equipment designed for young patients is imperative for accurate diagnoses and effective treatment. Ensuring the safety and comfort of the youngest of patients contributes to positive experiences for both the child and clinician.
As babies grow into children and then adolescents their bodies change. For healthcare facilities this means curating a comprehensive inventory of specialized pediatric equipment for each phase of development.
CME Corp. is a trusted medical equipment distributor sourcing only quality pediatric equipment from leading manufacturers. We can help ensure that pediatric departments in healthcare facilities are properly equipped for young patients of all ages.
In this article we will cover:
- Pediatric Equipment Overview
- Essential Pediatric Equipment and Tools
- Specialized Neonatal Equipment
- Comprehensive Pediatric Care Equipment Checklist
- Pediatric Equipment & Tools FAQs
Additionally, this guide offers a checklist of essential pediatric equipment and pediatric physical exam tools.
Pediatric Equipment Overview
Pediatric medical exam equipment differs from adult medical exam equipment in multiple ways.
The first and most obvious is the size and scale of the equipment. Pediatric medical equipment is specifically designed for the smaller anatomical features of children. Pediatric blood pressure cuffs, stethoscopes, and otoscope attachments have smaller sizes to accommodate a child’s arm, chest, and ear.
The design and appearance of pediatric equipment often incorporates child-friendly features to engage young patients and put them at ease. For example, pediatric equipment like exam tables may be brightly colored or themed.
Functional features like built-in book or toy holders on pediatric bed scales offer a distraction or entertainment for pediatric patients during weighing. By engaging the child, recording body weight during a pediatric physical exam can be completed efficiently and accurately.
Pediatric equipment is designed to be “child-sized” to ensure sensitivity and precision. Children’s bodies require more delicate handling, especially with procedures that require the use of forceps, catheters, or needles.
Safeguarding safety during pediatric physical exams is always top of mind. To this end, pediatric equipment such as pediatric beds or exam tables feature rounded edges, raised sides, and softer materials.
Smaller, specialized attachments for physical exam devices such as otoscopes or ophthalmoscopes accommodate the smaller anatomy of young patients. A better fit is more comfortable for the child and offers the healthcare provider a better view for a more thorough exam.
To summarize, pediatric medical exam equipment is tailored for the smaller anatomy of children. It offers comfort and safety while accommodating a range of developmental stages. The focus of pediatric equipment is accurate diagnoses, effective treatments, and positive experiences for the youngest of patients and the healthcare provider.
Essential Pediatric Equipment and Tools
“Children are not small adults” (Giselle C. Matlis) so in essence all pediatric equipment and tools can be considered essential and specialized. Adult sized medical equipment may not always work accurately and may even cause unintended harm or complications when used to examine children.
Essential Pediatric Equipment
Pediatric beds are sized and designed to meet the needs of young children and come in a variety of sizes and configurations. When evaluating pediatric beds look for features like:
- Adjustable Height Settings
- Side Rails
- Built-in Entertainment options
- Semi or Fully Electric Adjustability
The benefits of pediatric beds extend to both the pediatric patient and the caregiver.
- Perhaps the most obvious benefit of beds sized for children is that they help the youngest patients get a better rest. More rest is often the catalyst for a speedy recovery.
- With height adjustability and built in lifting mechanisms, pediatric beds can help prevent lifting injuries to caregivers.
- Cheerfully colored pediatric beds with features like toys and entertainment options have the benefit of helping to reduce stress and anxiety levels. These beds create a more home-like environment, encouraging children to focus on getting well. And, in some ways this benefit extends to family members.
Though smaller than adult beds, pediatric beds can still be cumbersome and weighty. CME’s direct-to-site delivery and logistical specialists will inspect, assemble, and deliver your pediatric beds regardless of the logistical challenges of the facility, when it is convenient for you. Be sure to ask about our turn-key delivery services.
Pediatric Exam Tables
Although smaller in surface area, pediatric exam tables are taller than traditional exam tables.
These child-sized medical exam tables may be brightly colored and decorated with fun juvenile motifs to reduce the anxiety some children may experience during medical exams.
When evaluating pediatric exam tables look for:
Pediatric exam tables offer the benefit of protecting the youngest of patients. The backs of healthcare providers attending to infants and children benefit from the increase height of the table at the same time.
Though smaller, pediatric exam tables may be heavy and cumbersome to move. CME’s direct-to-site delivery and logistical specialists will inspect, assemble, and deliver your pediatric exam tables regardless of the logistical challenges you may have within your facility, when it is convenient for you. Be sure to ask about our turn-key delivery services when choosing an exam table.
Pediatric Emergency Medical Cart
While not modified in size, pediatric crash carts are configured and organized specifically for attending to young patients.
The differentiating features of pediatric emergency medical carts are the color-coded drawers. Colors are based on the color zones of the Broselow Tape.
Color coded drawers ensure that medications and supplies directly correlated to the size of a child are immediately accessible.
Interestingly, the pediatric code cart color scheme is the only cart color coding that has been universally adopted by the healthcare industry.
When configuring a pediatric emergency medical cart look for
- Mobility and Maneuverability
- Ergonomic Features
- Organization Accessories
- Security and Locking
- Smooth Work Surfaces
- Minimal Plastic
- Antimicrobial powder-coated construction materials
CME’s expert account managers will work with you and the manufacturers’ representatives to configure pediatric emergency carts that are the perfect fit for your facility, at the best price for your budget.
Pediatric Measurement and Assessment Tools
Stadiometers and Infantometers
Pediatric stadiometers and infantometers measure the recumbent length of children up to two years of age. Most will measure pediatric patients from 14” to 42”.
These pediatric physical exam tools commonly feature a stationary 90-degree angle headpiece and a removable, sliding 90-degree angle foot piece. Some may be equipped with a magnifier attached to the foot piece.
Vertical stadiometers are used to measure the height of children over the age of two, or when they can stand without assistance.
Weight scales for younger patients are available in a variety of sizes and shapes to accommodate the growth of children.
Regardless of the type of pediatric exam scale used, consistently recording the weight of a child offers the benefit of monitoring development. Deviations from standard growth percentiles could be an indicator of a medical condition.
The four most common scales used for pediatric physical exams are:
- Spring Scales
- Hanging Scales
- Beam Balance Scales
- Digital Scales
Baby scales, also referred to as pediatric or infant scales, allow the baby to be laid in the scale for accuracy. Curved sides ensure safety. Skin-friendly materials that instantly take on and radiate body warmth keep the little ones comfortable. Some pediatric exam tables offer baby scales as an optional accessory.
Adult scales cannot be used to weigh infants. Even the most sophisticated can only measure to within one-half pound. Measuring the weight of infants and children requires greater accuracy.
For example, when it comes to dosages of medication for pediatric patients an accurate weight and accurately recorded weight are vital. Babies and children have a much smaller margin for dosage error than adults and a dose calculation based on an incorrect weight can be dangerous if not fatal.
Today’s technology improves the accuracy of weighing a patient. Integrated scales with direct connectivity to an Electronic Health Record (EMR) take the risk of a data entry error out of the equation and makes the critical information accessible from a central location.
When evaluating pediatric scales for your facility look for features that match your needs.
- scales that can convert from infant to toddler,
- length measuring options,
- integration with EMR, and
Just like height and weight measurements, growth charts are pediatric physical exam staples.
Growth charts are used to compare a child’s height, weight, and head size to other children of the same age and gender. Over time they will show a pattern of height and weight gain. These patterns can then be used to confirm that a child is growing proportionately.
There are two types of growth charts, growth standards and growth references.
Growth Standards Charts identify how children should grow when raised in optimal conditions.
Growth Reference Charts describe how children grow. The references can be applied to other children that are typical of the reference group.
Within these types of growth charts, boys and girls are measured separately.
Simple ribbon tape measures are used during pediatric physical exams to measure the circumference of a child’s head. Particularly in infants, measuring the circumference of the head is an important step in monitoring health. If a circumference measurement deviates significantly from the normative growth curves it could be an indicator of a problem.
The color coded Broselow Tape or Broselow Pediatric Emergency Tape relates a child’s height, as measured by the tape, to their estimated weight to give emergency medical instructions related to medication dosages, the size of equipment that should be used and the level of energy required for a defibrillator. This tape measure is intended for use on children up to approximately 12 years of age and 79 lbs. It is recognized in most medical textbooks as the standard for the emergency treatment of children.
Pediatric Diagnostic Instruments
Otoscopes are used during pediatric physical exams to look into the ear. They are equipped with a light, magnifying lens and a funnel-shaped viewing piece with a narrow, pointed speculum.
While the otoscope handle itself is the same size for adults and children, the disposable speculum at the end is a smaller proportion to accommodate narrow ear canals.
Speculums with an inner diameter of 4 mm are suitable for young children while speculums of 2.5-3.0 mm are used for babies.
Look for otoscopes that:
- offer LED illumination for optimal color accuracy and brightness,
- offer adjustable magnification levels to suite changing examination needs,
- are made from stainless steel or strong plastics,
- have ergonomic design, a comfortable grip and intuitive controls, or
- can be connected to EHR/EMR systems.
Ophthalmoscopes are used to evaluate the interior of the eye.
Direct ophthalmoscopes produce an upright image at approximately 15x magnification. This device can detect opacities and macular degeneration of the lens.
Indirect ophthalmoscopes produce inverted images at 2-5x magnification. The objective lens is best for the diagnosis and treatment of detachments, holes, and retinal tears.
When evaluating an ophthalmoscope look for:
- Mirror alignment and a wide-angle light beam
- Metal chassis to protect precisely aligned optics
- Curved, contoured head to maximize viewing angles
- Light control
Because sounds produced by a child’s heart, lungs, and circulatory system are different from an adult’s, specialized pediatric stethoscopes are required for an accurate physical exam. Pediatric stethoscopes are engineered to hear higher frequencies and provide better sound quality at frequencies higher than 200 Hz.
Generally, the chest pieces and diaphragm on pediatric stethoscopes are smaller than adult stethoscopes to better fit a child’s chest. Neonatal stethoscopes for newborns and infants are even smaller, featuring a ¾” chest piece for a narrower sound focus and more accuracy.
The serendipity of pediatric stethoscopes is that they can be used for adults as well as children. Additionally, many clinicians find them easier to use because they are heavier in weight and have a better ability to transfer sound. Clinicians will need to balance the comfort of lighter weight stethoscopes with the sound quality of a heavier instrument.
Look for brightly colored child-friendly stethoscopes to help entertain and relax the young patients. As a bonus, you won’t be likely to mix up your stethoscope with a colleague’s.
Blood Pressure Cuffs
Blood pressure cuffs are also specialized for smaller bodies. Because children come in different sizes, so do pediatric blood pressure cuffs.
Here are the recommended cuff sizes for the accurate measurement of blood pressure in children:
- Newborns – 4 x 8 cm
- Infants – 6 x 12 cm
- Older Children – 9 x 12 cm
Using cuffs that are too large or too small will return inaccurate readings.
Cuffs that are too small will overestimate blood pressure levels while a cuff that is too large will underestimate blood pressure. However, the magnitude of error using a cuff that is too large is less than when using a cuff that is too small.
Look for colorful cuffs to distinguish cuff sizes at a glance. Young patients may also be less anxious if they are distracted by bright, happy colors.
Thermometers used to measure an infant’s or child’s body temperature are available in a variety of forms.
Digital thermometers may be used orally, rectally, or axillary. They use electronic sensors to record body temperature. For infants and babies, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends rectal thermometers for the most accurate reading of body temperature. Of the three, the axillary, or under the armpit, is the least accurate measurement.
Digital ear thermometers use an infrared scanner to record the temperature inside the ear canal. The accuracy of these readings can be compromised by small, curved ear canals or earwax.
Temporal thermometers measure the temperature of the temporal artery in the forehead. The benefit of this thermometer is that it can be used even when a child is asleep.
Today glass mercury, digital pacifiers, and fever strips are not recommended.
When evaluating the best pediatric thermometers for your healthcare facility look for
- An accuracy rate of +/- 0.4 or better.
- How quickly a temperature can be recorded.
- Eco-friendly thermometers that don’t require disposable plastic caps.
Many leading manufacturers of diagnostic instruments for physical exams offer complete diagnostic wall systems. These systems organize diagnostic devices in one place. Access to all required instruments maximizing the productivity of caregivers conducting pediatric physical exams.
Additionally, diagnostic wall systems or the individual devices themselves are increasingly being manufactured with electronic connectivity features, ready to be connected to electronic medical record systems.
Ask CME experts about connectivity to learn more about how you can increase the accuracy of patient records today or position your facility to do so in the future.
Tuning forks with a 512 Hz or 256 Hz frequency may be used by pediatricians to assess a child’s hearing during a physical exam. Hearing tests conducted with tuning forks are easy and offer a rough estimate of hearing acuity, perfect for young patients.
Tuning forks are commonly used for the Rinne test, Weber test, and Absolute Bone Conduction test.
A quality tuning fork should be:
- made of a good alloy,
- vibrate at the specified frequency,
- capable of vibrating for a full minute, and
- not produce any over tones.
Pediatric physical examinations would not be complete without the gentle tap of a reflex hammer to a muscle tendon. These medical instruments are used to test the reflexes of deep tendons. Abnormalities of the nervous system can be exposed with this simple test. The most well-known reflex is the knee-jerk reflex which happens when the reflex hammer is tapped to the knee.
Quality reflex hammers should
- have a large and a small rubber head and
- have a well-designed counterbalanced handle and precision grip.
Pediatric Examination Aids
Medical penlights are used to illuminate specific or small areas of the body for examination.
These specialized penlights range from 10-100 lumens. Lower output, 10-30 lumens are best for pupil assessment and reducing glare. 30-100 lumens offer better light for wound examination or other diagnostic purposes.
Important features to look for when evaluating a penlight include:
- Pocket clips
- Color rendering
- Beam color
- Beam pattern
- Rechargeable or replaceable batteries
- Battery life
Objects like stuffed animals and toys that play music, light up or buzz are commonly used by healthcare providers to distract infants and toddlers during physical examinations, when vaccines are administered for example. Books or audio books with headphones and music may be used with young children to decrease anxiety during a physical exam.
Age-appropriate distractions can help manage pain, facilitate coping, and build trust between caregivers and pediatric patients.
Specialized Neonatal Equipment
Pediatric equipment used to care for babies born premature or sick is very specialized and includes umbilical catheters and phototherapy lights.
Umbilical catheters use the umbilical stump for emergency intravenous delivery of medications or fluids. Commonly used when a baby is very premature, this line allows fluid and medication to be administered frequently without replacing the IV. These catheters can be used on infants up to 14 days old.
Phototherapy lights are used to treat infants with jaundice. Usually blue, fluorescent tubes, these lights in the blue-green spectrum eliminate the bilirubin in the blood that causes the skin to yellow. The baby’s skin and blood absorb the light waves which change the bilirubin into a product that can pass through the infant’s system. Patches are placed on the infant’s eyes to protect them.
Recent advances in phototherapy for jaundice use LED phototherapy systems. These systems use gallium nitride LED’s that emit light wavelengths that are most effectively absorbed by bilirubin.
LED lights can be customized by adjusting the proportions of blue-green and green lights. Additionally, these lights generate very little heat and are safe to use closer to a baby’s skin.
Radiant warmers help maintain or stabilize a newborn and premature baby’s body temperature while also limiting the metabolism rate. The heat source is positioned above the baby. In this way the body temperature can be kept constant. Unlike incubators, radiant warmers are not enclosed.
Look for “all-in-one” warmers with
- Adjustable procedure lighting
- X-Ray trays
- Oxygen Blenders
- Integrated vitals
- Integrated resuscitation equipment
- Adjustable height
- Heat direction
In an environment where high-acuity workflow is critical, these features help to ensure an end-to-end workflow, efficiency, and the comfort of the healthcare professionals.
CME experts can help source this very specialized neonatal equipment for your facility.
Comprehensive Pediatric Care Equipment Checklist
CME is dedicated to offering quality pediatric equipment and pediatric physical exam tools from the leading manufacturers in the industry.
Our expert account managers will work with you and the manufacturers’ representatives to evaluate and configure pediatric medical equipment that is the perfect fit for your facility, at the best price for your budget.
We have relationships with over 2,000 manufacturers so we can help you source specialized equipment to ensure that your facility has the tools required to treat the youngest of patients.
CME can also, in most cases, receive, inspect, assemble when required, and deliver your pediatric equipment when it is convenient for you.
CHAT with us to learn more.
In conclusion, equipping exam rooms with pediatric equipment is essential for accurately diagnosing and treating the youngest patients. Properly sized instruments ensure that measurements and readings are accurate. And, maybe most importantly, pediatric equipment can contribute to the comfort of children in what can be stressful circumstances. Healthy children and positive experiences are always the best outcome.
Pediatric Equipment and Tools FAQs
What equipment is used in pediatrics?
Pediatric physical exams use the same equipment common to adult physical exams. The difference is that attachments for otoscopes and ophthalmoscopes are smaller in size. Blood pressure cuffs are also sized for children. Scales, stadiometers, and growth charts are also staple equipment for children.
What technology is used in pediatrics?
Advances in Electronic Medical Records and Electronic Health Records are encouraging more pediatric facilities to take advantage of connectivity options built into diagnostic wall systems and scales. Directly recording measurements from these devices minimizes transcription errors recording these vital health statistics.
What size blood pressure cuff is best for children?
Children come in all sizes and so do blood pressure cuffs. Using cuffs that are too large or too small will return inaccurate readings.
Here are the recommended sizes:
- Newborns – 4 x 8 cm
- Infants – 6 x 12 cm
- Older Children – 9 x 12 cm
What are the best thermometers for children?
When evaluating thermometers for pediatric patients look for
- An accuracy rate of +/- 0.4 or better.
- How quickly a temperature can be recorded.
Temporal thermometers are a great option because they can be used on a sleeping child without waking them.
About CME: CME Corp is the nation’s premier source for healthcare equipment, turnkey logistics, and biomedical services, representing 2 million+ products from more than 2,000 manufacturers. With two corporate offices and 35+ service centers, our mission is to help healthcare facilities nationwide reduce the cost of the equipment they purchase, make their equipment specification, delivery, installation, and maintenance processes more efficient, and help them seamlessly launch, renovate and expand on schedule.