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Problematic alcohol use is associated with detrimental cognitive, physiological and social consequences. In the emergency department (ED), Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) is the recommended approach to identify and treat adolescent alcohol-related concerns, but is underused by physicians.
This study examined pediatric emergency physicians’ perceptions of adolescent drinking and treatment, and their current self-reported SBIRT practices.
Physicians in the Pediatric Emergency Research Canada database (n=245) received a 35-item questionnaire that was administered through a web-based platform and paper-based mail-outs. Recruitment followed a modified Dillman four-contact approach.
From October 2016 to January 2017, 166 pediatric emergency physicians (46.4% males; mean age=43.6 years) completed the questionnaire. The response rate was 67.8%. Physicians recognized the need (65%) and responsibility (86%) to address adolescent alcohol problems. However, confidence in knowledge and abilities for SBIRT execution was low. Twenty-five percent of physicians reported never having practiced all, or part of, SBIRT while 1.3% reported consistent SBIRT delivery for adolescents with alcohol-related visits. More alcohol education and counselling experience was associated with higher SBIRT use; however, physicians generally reported to have received minimal alcohol training. SBIRT practices were also associated with physician perceptions of problematic alcohol use and its treatability.
Pediatric emergency physicians acknowledge the need to address problematic adolescent alcohol use, but routine SBIRT use is lacking. Strategies to educate physicians about SBIRT and enhance perceived self-competency may improve SBIRT use. Effectiveness trials to establish SBIRT impact on patient outcomes are also needed.
The goal of this study was to examine the mental health needs of children and youth who present to the emergency department (ED) for mental health care and to describe the type of, and satisfaction with, follow-up mental health services accessed.
A 6-month to 1.5-year prospective cohort study was conducted in three Canadian pediatric EDs and one general ED, with a 1-month follow-up post-ED discharge. Measures included 1) clinician rating of mental health needs, 2) patient and caregiver self-reports of follow-up services, and 3) interviews regarding follow-up satisfaction. Data analysis included descriptive statistics and the Fisher’s exact test to compare sites.
The cohort consisted of 373 children and youth (61.1% female; mean age 15.1 years, 1.5 standard deviation). The main reason for ED presentations was a mental health crisis. The three most frequent areas of need requiring action were mood (43.8%), suicide risk (37.4%), and parent-child relational problems (34.6%). During the ED visit, 21.6% of patients received medical clearance, 40.9% received a psychiatric consult, and 19.4% were admitted to inpatient psychiatric care. At the 1-month post-ED visit, 84.3% of patients/caregivers received mental health follow-up. Ratings of service recommendations were generally positive, as 60.9% of patients obtained the recommended follow-up care and 13.9% were wait-listed.
Children and youth and their families presenting to the ED with mental health needs had substantial clinical morbidity, were connected with services, were satisfied with their ED visit, and accessed follow-up care within 1-month with some variability.
We explored caregiver perspectives on their children’s pain management in both a pediatric (PED) and general emergency department (GED). Study objectives were to: (1) measure caregiver estimates of children’s pain scores and treatment; (2) determine caregiver level of satisfaction; and (3) determine factors associated with caregiver satisfaction.
This prospective survey examined a convenience sample of 97 caregivers (n=51 PED, n=46 GED) with children aged <17 years. A paper-based survey was distributed by research assistants, from 2009–2011.
Most caregivers were female (n=77, 79%) and were the child’s mother (n=69, 71%). Children were treated primarily for musculoskeletal pain (n=41, 42%), headache (n=16, 16%) and abdominal pain (n=7, 7%). Using a 100 mm Visual Analog Scale, the maximum mean reported pain score was 75 mm (95% CI: 70–80) and mean score at discharge was 39 mm (95% CI: 32–46). Ninety percent of caregiver respondents were satisfied (80/89, 90%); three (3/50, 6%) were dissatisfied in the PED and six (6/39, 15%) in the GED. Caregivers who rated their child’s pain at ED discharge as severe were less likely to be satisfied than those who rated their child’s pain as mild or moderate (p=0.034).
Despite continued pain upon discharge, most caregivers report being satisfied with their child’s pain management. Caregiver satisfaction is likely multifactorial, and physicians should be careful not to interpret satisfaction as equivalent to adequate provision of analgesia. The relationship between satisfaction and pain merits further exploration.
Goals for this study were to characterize the substances being used by youth who presented to an emergency department (ED), their demographic descriptors, and to describe the associated acute morbidity and mortality.
We conducted a retrospective review of all youth, ages 10–16 years, who presented to a pediatric ED with complaints related to recreational drug use (n=641) for 2 years ending on December 31, 2009.
The median age of patients was 15 years; 56% were female. Six percent of patients were homeless, and 21% were wards of the state. The most frequent ingestions included ethanol (74%), marijuana (20%), ecstasy (19%), and medications (15%). Over one third of patients had ingested two or more substances. Ninety percent of patients were brought to the ED by the emergency medical services; 63% of these activations were by non-acquaintances. Of the 47% of youth who presented with a decreased level of consciousness, half had a Glasgow Coma Scale less than 13. The Canadian Triage and Acuity Scale score was 1 or 2 for 44% of patients. Sixty-eight percent received IV fluids, 42% received medication, and 4% were intubated. The admission rate was 9%.
Youth who presented to the ED for substance use represented a socially vulnerable population whose use of recreational substances resulted in high medical acuity and significant morbidity. Improved clinical identification of such high-risk youth and subsequent design of interventions to address problematic substance use and social issues are urgently needed to complement the acute medical care that youth receive.
To examine sociodemographic variations among children <18 years in (1) rates of self-harm visits to emergency departments (EDs) and (2) physician follow-up after the self-harm visit in Alberta.
A retrospective, population-based cohort (2002–2011) of ED visits for self-harm by individuals <18 years was conducted using administrative databases from Alberta, Canada. Individuals were grouped by First Nations status or type of health care premium subsidy (family receipt of government subsidy, human services program subsidy, no subsidy received). Visits from 104 EDs were summarized by crude and directly standardized visit rates (DSVRs) per 100,000 individuals. Kaplan-Meier estimates for median estimated time to physician follow-up were calculated with 95% confidence intervals (CIs).
During the study period, visit rates decreased with the exception of children from families receiving government-sponsored program subsidy (DSVRs 163/100,000 to 250/100,000; p=0.032). First Nations children had disproportionately fewer follow-up visits compared to other children. The median time to follow-up for First Nations children was 39 days (95% CI: 32, 48) compared to 16 days for children from families receiving no subsidy (95% CI: 14, 19), who had the shortest follow-up time after an ED visit.
Sociodemographic differences were evident in ED visit rates as well as the number of and time to physician follow-up visit. The disparities experienced by First Nations children in the follow-up period highlight an opportunity for culturally-grounded risk and needs assessment in the ED to determine and facilitate timely and appropriate follow-up care.
Musculoskeletal (MSK) injuries are a common, painful pediatric presentation to the emergency department (ED). The primary objective of this study was to describe current analgesic administration practices for the outpatient management of children’s MSK pain, both in the ED and postdischarge.
We reviewed the medical records of consecutive pediatric patients evaluated in either a pediatric or a general ED (Edmonton, Alberta) during four evenly distributed calendar months, with a diagnosis of fracture, dislocation, strain, or sprain of a limb. Abstracted data included demographics, administered analgesics, pain scores, discharge medication advice, and timing of clinical care.
A total of 543 medical records were reviewed (n 5 468 pediatric ED, n 5 75 general ED). Nineteen percent had documented prehospital analgesics, 34% had documented in-ED analgesics, 13% reported procedural sedation, and 24% documented discharge analgesia advice. Of those children receiving analgesics in the ED, 59% (126 of 214) received ibuprofen. Pain scores were recorded for 6% of patients. At discharge, ibuprofen was recommended to 47% and codeine-containing compounds to 21% of children. The average time from triage to first analgesic in the ED was 121 6 84 minutes.
Documentation of the assessment and management of children’s pain in the ED is poor, and pain management appears to be suboptimal. When provided, ibuprofen is the most common analgesic used for children with MSK pain. Pediatric patients with MSK pain do not receive timely medication, and interventions must be developed to improve the ‘‘door to analgesia’’ time for children in pain.
To describe pediatric emergency medicine (PEM) physicians' reported pain management practices across Canada and explore factors that facilitate or hinder pain management.
This study was a prospective survey of Canadian pediatric emergency physicians. The Pediatric Emergency Research Canada physician database was used to identify participants, and a modified Dillman's Total Design Survey Method was used for recruitment.
The survey response rate was 68% (139 of 206). Most physicians were 31 to 50 years old (82%) with PEM training (56%) and had been in practice for less than 10 years (55%). Almost all pain screening in emergency departments (EDs) occurred at triage (97%). Twenty-four percent of physicians noted institutionally mandated pain score documentation. Ibuprofen and acetaminophen were commonly prescribed in the ED for mild to moderate pain (88% and 83%, respectively). Over half of urinary catheterizations (60%) and intravenous (53%) starts were performed without any analgesia. The most common nonpharmacologic interventions used for infants and children were pacifiers and distraction, respectively. Training background and gender of physicians affected the likelihood of using nonpharmacologic interventions. Physicians noted time restraints to be the greatest barrier to optimal pain management (55%) and desired improved access to pain medications (32%), better policies and procedures (30%), and further education (25%).
When analgesia was reported as provided, ibuprofen and acetaminophen were most commonly used. Both procedural and presenting pain remained suboptimally managed. There is a substantial evidence practice gap in children's ED pain management, highlighting the need for further knowledge translation strategies and policies to support optimal treatment.
We sought to determine and compare rates of pediatric mental health presentations and associated costs in emergency departments (EDs) in Alberta.
We examined 16 154 presentations by 12 589 patients (patient age ≤ 17 yr) between April 2002 and March 2006 using the Ambulatory Care Classification System, a province-wide database for Alberta. The following variables of interest were extracted: patient demographics, discharge diagnoses, triage level, disposition, recorded costs for ED care, and institutional classification and location (i.e., rural v. urban, pediatric v. general EDs).
A 15% increase in pediatric mental health presentations was observed during the study period. Youth aged 13-17 years consistently represented the most common age group for first presentation to the ED (83.3%). Of the 16 154 recorded presentations, 21.4% were related to mood disorders and 32.5% to anxiety disorders. Presentations for substance misuse or abuse were the most prevalent reasons for a mental health-related visit (41.3%). Multiple visits accounted for more than one-third of all presentations. Presentations for mood disorders were more common in patients with multiple compared with single visits (29.3% v. 16.9%), and substance abuse or misuse presentations were more common in patients with single compared with multiple visits (47.4% v. 30.5%). The total direct ED costs for mental health presentations during the study period was Can$3.5 million.
This study provides comprehensive data on trends of pediatric mental health presentation, and highlights the costs and return presentations in this population. Psychiatric and medical care provided in the ED for pediatric mental health emergencies should be evaluated to determine quality of care and its relationship with return visits and costs.
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