What Defines a child that is Medically Fragile?
“Medically Fragile or Special Health Care Needs Dependent”
To be defined as a special needs child, children must have special health care needs meaning the child must have a the need for specialized in-home health care based upon one or more of the following criteria:
- Enteral Feeding Tube (nutrition fed through a tube placed in the nose, the stomach, or the small intestine.)
- (TPN Dendent) Total Parenteral Feeding (supplies all the nutritional needs of the body by bypassing the digestive system, dripping nutrient solution directly into a vein.)
- Cardiorespiratory Monitoring
- Intravenous Therapy
- Ventilator dependent
- Oxygen Support
- Urinary Catherization
- Renal Dialysis
- Ministrations imposed by tracheotomy, colostomy, Ileostomey, or other medical, surgical procedures.
Also, any condition that can rapidly deteriorate resulting in permanent injury or death. These children are commonly referred to as “medically fragile.” Typically, medically fragile children are infants under 3 years of age who are prone to hospitalization.
The following are a few examples of conditions that often, but certainly not always, qualify a child as medically fragile.
- Prenatal exposure to drugs and/or alcohol
- Congenital or hereditary defects such as spina bifida, sickle cell, anemia, cystic fibrosis, netherton syndrome, heart , lung defects.
- Cerebral Palsy
- Muscular Dystrophy
- BPD – Bronchopulmonary dysplasia
- Failure to thrive
- HIV positive and symptomatic
With the on going advances in medicine, the quality of life and longevity has vastly improved for medically fragile children. Many medically fragile children are able to be cared for in “specialized licensed foster care homes” with mandated individualized care plans outlining the child’s medical care needs as opposed to having to stay in hospital ward. This home setting has proven to to facilitate improvements in the child’s condition and well being.