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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.
Bronchiolitis is the leading cause of hospital admission for infants, but few studies have examined management of this condition in community hospital settings. We reviewed the management of children with bronchiolitis presenting to community hospitals in Ontario.
We retrospectively reviewed a consecutive cohort of infants less than 12 months old with bronchiolitis who presented to 28 Ontario community hospitals over a two-year period. Bronchiolitis was defined as first episode of wheezing associated with signs of an upper respiratory tract infection during respiratory syncytial virus season.
Of 543 eligible children, 161 (29.7%, 95% Confidence Interval (CI) 22.3 to 37.0%) were admitted to hospital. Hospital admission rates varied widely (Interquartile Range 0%-40.3%). Bronchodilator use was widespread in the emergency department (ED) (79.7% of patients, 95% CI 75.0 to 84.5%) and on the inpatient wards (94.4% of patients, 95% CI 90.2 to 98.6%). Salbutamol was the most commonly used bronchodilator. At ED discharge 44.7% (95% CI 37.5 to 51.9%) of patients were prescribed a bronchodilator medication. Approximately one-third of ED patients (30.8%, 95% CI 22.7 to 38.8%), 50.3% (95% CI 37.7 to 63.0%) of inpatients, and 23.5% (95% CI 14.4 to 32.7) of patients discharged from the ED were treated with corticosteroids. The most common investigation obtained was a chest x-ray (60.2% of all children; 95% CI 51.9 to 68.5%).
Infants with bronchiolitis receive medications and investigations for which there is little evidence of benefit. This suggests a need for knowledge translation strategies directed to community hospitals.
Given the recent publication of several large trials and systematic reviews, we undertook a study of the current management of bronchiolitis in Canadian pediatric emergency departments (EDs) and explored physicians’ rationale for their treatment decisions. The overarching purpose of this study was to assist in planning a future trial of combined epinephrine and dexamethasone for bronchiolitis.
Physicians in the Pediatric Emergency Research Canada (PERC) database received an 18-item electronic survey. A modified Dillman method was used.
Of the 271 physicians surveyed, 191 (70.1%) responded. The majority (120 of 271; 66.5%) reported ‘‘typically’’ giving a bronchodilator trial in the ED, with respondents almost evenly divided between treatment with salbutamol (n=62) and treatment with epinephrine (n=61). Of those who use salbutamol, 77.4% indicated that they prefer it because it can be prescribed for home use. Of those who use epinephrine, 80.3% indicated that they believe the medical literature supports its benefit over salbutamol. Few participants (2.6%) reported ‘‘always’’ using steroids, whereas the majority (62.8%) reported ‘‘sometimes’’ using them. The most common factor reported to influence steroid use was illness severity (73.3%). The majority (60.5%) reported that if corticosteroids were beneficial in bronchiolitis, they prefered treatment with a single dose in the ED as opposed to a multiday course.
Our results indicate that physicians practicing in Canadian pediatric EDs commonly use bronchodilators to manage bronchiolitis but use corticosteroids less commonly. They appear to be uncomfortable using corticosteroids, particularly longer courses, and have a stated preference for a single dose. Any future trial examining the role of corticosteroids in bronchiolitis should carefully consider the issue of steroid dosage.
Numerous barriers to maintaining infection control practices through the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) exist in the emergency department (ED). This study examined the knowledge, self-reported behaviours, and barriers to compliance with infection control practices and the use of PPE in Canadian pediatric EDs.
A self-administered survey instrument consisting of 21 questions was developed and piloted for this study. The survey was mailed to all individuals listed in the Pediatric Emergency Research Canada database of physicians practicing pediatric emergency medicine in Canada.
A total of 186 physicians were surveyed, and 123 (66%) participated. Twenty-two percent of participants reported that they had never received PPE training and 32% had not been trained in the previous 2 years. Fifty-three percent reported being very or somewhat comfortable with their knowledge of transmission-based isolation practices. Participants were correct on a mean of 4.9 of 11 knowledge-based questions (SD 1.7). For scenarios assessing self-reported use of PPE, participants selected answers that reflected PPE use in accordance with national infection control standards in a mean of 1.0 of 6 scenarios (SD 1.0). Participants reported that they would be more likely to use PPE if patients were clearly identified prior to physician assessment, equipment was accessible, and PPE use was made a priority in their ED.
Knowledge and self-reported adherence to recommended infection control practices among Canadian pediatric emergency physicians is suboptimal. Early identification of patients requiring PPE, convenient access to PPE, and improved education regarding isolation and PPE practices may improve adherence.
Emergency physicians (EPs) rarely find out what happens to patients after the patients leave their care, a process we call “outcome feedback.” Some suggest this hinders the practice of emergency medicine (EM); however, evidence is lacking. We sought to evaluate EPs' perception of the current and potential role of outcome feedback in EM.
We surveyed practising French- and English-speaking EPs from emergency departments within 100 km of Ottawa, Ont., in the provinces of Ontario and Quebec. The main outcomes included the prevalence, role and effect of outcome feedback.
Of the 297 physicians surveyed, 231 (77.8%) responded. The sample contained good representation of language groups, practice settings, sexes and age groups. All participants indicated that knowing outcomes is “essential” (62.6%) or “beneficial” (37.4%) to gaining experience in EM. Participants reported currently receiving passive outcome feedback in 10.0% of all cases, and seeking out (active) outcome feedback in 7.5% of all cases. The great majority of participants (97.3%) stated that they would like to receive more outcome feedback and believed that this would improve diagnostic accuracy (97.3%), clinical efficiency (85.5%), treatment outcomes (95.6%) and job satisfaction (95.1%). When asked to indicate “any possible negative effects that might arise from increased outcome feedback,” 62.1% indicated none. However, 17.9% hypothesized negative emotional effects and 11.5% suggested increased time requirements.
The overwhelming majority of EPs receive very little outcome feedback. Most would like more outcome feedback and believe it would improve the practice of EM.
We compared the appropriateness of visits to a pediatric emergency department (ED) by provincial telephone health line–referral, by self- or parent-referral, and by physician-referral.
A cohort of patients younger than 18 years of age who presented to a pediatric ED during any of four 1-week study periods were prospectively enrolled. The cohort consisted of all patients who were referred to the ED by a provincial telephone health line or by a physician. For each patient referred by the health line, the next patient who was self- or parent-referred was also enrolled. The primary outcome was visit appropriateness, which was determined using previously published explicit criteria. Secondary outcomes included the treating physician's view of appropriateness, disposition (hospital admission or discharge), treatment, investigations and the length of stay in the ED.
Of the 578 patients who were enrolled, 129 were referred from the health line, 102 were either self- or parent-referred, and 347 were physician-referred. Groups were similar at baseline for sex, but health line–referred patients were significantly younger. Using explicitly set criteria, there was no significant difference in visit appropriateness among the health line–referrals (66%), the self- or parent-referrals (77%) and the physician-referrals (73%) (p = 0.11). However, when the examining physician determined visit appropriateness, physician-referred patients (80%) were deemed appropriate significantly more often than those referred by the health line (56%, p < 0.001) or by self- or parent-referral (63%, p = 0.002). There was no significant difference between these latter 2 referral routes (p = 0.50). In keeping with their greater acuity, physician-referred patients were significantly more likely to have investigations, receive some treatment, be admitted to hospital and have longer lengths of stay. Patients who were self- or parent-referred, and those who were health line–referred were similar to each other in these outcomes.
There was no significant difference in visit appropriateness based on the route of referral when we used set criteria; however, there was when we used treating physician opinion, triage category and resource use.
The objective of this study was to evaluate the utility of circumferential casting in the emergency department (ED), orthopedic follow-up visits, and radiographic follow-up in the management of children with wrist buckle fractures.
We performed a retrospective medical record review of all children < 18 years of age who presented to our tertiary care children’s hospital between July 1, 2000, and June 30, 2001, and were diagnosed with a fracture of the wrist, radius or ulna. Based on the radiology reports, we identified buckle fractures of the distal radius, the distal ulna, or both bones. We excluded children who had other types of fractures.
We identified 840 children with fractures of the wrist, radius, or ulna. Of these, 309 met our inclusion criteria. The median age of our study cohort was 9.2 years. Emergency physicians immobilized 269 of these fractures in circumferential casts; of these, 30 (11%) had cast complications. Of the 276 subjects who had orthopedic follow-up visits and radiographs, 184 (67%) had multiple visits and 127 (46%) had multiple radiographs performed. No subjects had fracture displacement identified on follow-up.
Orthopedic follow-up visits and radiographic follow-up may have minimal utility in the treatment of pediatric wrist buckle fractures. ED casting may pose more risk than benefit for these children. Splinting in the ED with primary care follow-up appears to be a reasonable management strategy for these fractures. A prospective study comparing ED splinting and casting for pediatric wrist buckle fractures is needed.
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