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To define the range of clinical conditions Canadian emergency pediatricians consider appropriate formanagement by physician assistants (PAs) and the degree of autonomy PAs should have in the pediatric emergency department (PED).
We conducted a cross–sectional, pan-Canadian survey using electronic questionnaire technology: the Active Campaign Survey tool. We targeted PED physicians using the Pediatric Emergency Research Canada (PERC) network database (N = 297). Three outcome measures were assessed: demographic information, familiarity with PAs, and PA clinical roles in the PED. The level of PA involvement was assessed for 57 common nonemergent clinical conditions.
Of 297 physicians, 152 completed the survey, for a response rate of 51.2%. None of the 57 clinical categories achieved at least 85% agreement regarding PA management without direct physician involvement. Twenty-four clinical conditions had ≥ 15% agreement that any PA involvement would be inappropriate. For the remaining 33 clinical conditions, more than 85% of respondents felt that PA could appropriately manage but were divided between requiring direct and only indirect physician supervision. Respondents' selection of the number of conditions felt to be appropriate for PA involvement varied between the size of the emergency department (ED) in which they work (larger EDs 87.7–89.1% v. smaller EDs 74.2%) and familiarity with the clinical work of PAs in the ED (90.5–91.5% v. 82.2–84.7%).
This national survey of Canadian PED physicians suggests that they feel PAs could help care for a large number of nonemergent clinical cases coming to the PED, but these clinical encounters would have to be directly supervised by a physician.
Because a majority of urinary tract stones (UTSs) pass spontaneously and clinically significant alternative pathology is rare, we hypothesize that many computed tomographic (CT) scans to diagnose them are likely unnecessary. We sought to measure the impact of renal CT scans on resource use and to justify a prospective study to derive a score that predicts an emergent diagnosis in patients with suspected UTS by doing so in our retrospective series.
We conducted a retrospective study of ED patients who had noncontrast CT of the abdomen for suspected UTS. A split-sample was used to derive and validate a score to predict the presence of an emergent diagnosis on CT.
Of the 2,315 patients (50.8% female, mean age 45 years), 49 (2.1%) had an emergent outcome observed on CT. An additional 12 (0.5%) patients had an urgent outcome and 239 (10.6%) had a urologic procedure within 8 weeks of the CT. Serum white blood cell count, highest temperature, urine red blood cell count, and the presence of abdominal pain were significant predictors of the primary outcome. A score derived using these predictors had a potential range of 22 (0.26% predicted risk, 0.5% actual risk of the outcome) to 6 (52% predicted risk). The score was moderately discriminatory with c-statistics of 0.752 (derivation) and 0.668 (validation) and accurate with Hosmer-Lemeshow statistics of 10.553 (p = 0.228, derivation) and 9.70 (p = 0.286, validation).
A sensible, relevant score derived and validated on all patients presenting with symptoms suggestive of renal colic could be useful in reducing abdominal CT scan ordering.
To determine the willingness of parents of children visiting a pediatric emergency department to have a physician assistant (PA) assess and treat their child and the waiting time reduction sufficient for them to choose to receive treatment by a PA rather than wait for a physician.
After describing the training and scope of practice of PAs, we asked caregivers of children triaged as urgent to nonurgent if they would be willing to have their child assessed and treated by a PA on that visit: definitely, maybe, or never. We also asked the minimum amount of waiting time reduction they would want to see before choosing to receive treatment by a PA rather than wait for a physician.
We approached 320 eligible subjects, and 273 (85.3%) consented to participate. Regarding whether they would be willing to have their child receive treatment by a PA, 140 (51.3%) respondents answered definitely, 107 (39.2%) said maybe, and 26 (9.2%) said never. Most respondents (64.1%) would choose to have their child seen by a PA instead of waiting for a physician if the waiting time reduction were at least 60 minutes (median 60 minutes [interquartile range 60 minutes]). Respondents' perception of the severity of their child's condition was associated with unwillingness to receive treatment by a PA, whereas child's age, presenting complaint, and actual waiting time were not.
Only a small minority of parents of children visiting a pediatric emergency department for urgent to nonurgent issues are unwilling to have their child treated by PAs.