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Introduction: Acute pharyngitis is a common emergency department (ED) presentation. The Centor (Modified/McIsaac) score uses five criteria (age, tonsillar exudates, swollen tender anterior cervical nodes, absence of a cough, and history of fever) to predict Group A Streptococcus (GAS) infection. The recommendation is patients with a Centor score of 0-1 should not undergo testing and should not be given antibiotics, patients with a score of 2-3 may warrant throat cultures, and for patients with a score ≥ 4, empiric antibiotics may be appropriate. Associated pain is often first managed with acetaminophen or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, however recent evidence suggests a short course of low-to-moderate dose corticosteroids as adjunctive therapy may reduce inflammation and provide pain relief. The objective of this study was to describe the ED management of acute pharyngitis for adult patients presenting to an academic ED over a two-year study period. Methods: This was a retrospective chart review of all adult (> 17 years) patients presenting to Mount Sinai Hospital ED with a discharge diagnosis of acute pharyngitis (ICD-10 code J02.9) from January 1st 2016 to December 31st 2018. Trained research personnel reviewed medical records and extracted data using a computerized, data abstraction form. Results: Of the 638 patients included in the study, 286 (44.8%) had a Centor score of 0-1, 328 (51.4%) had a score of 2-3, and 24 (3.8%) had a score of ≥ 4. Of those with a Centor score of 0-1, 83 (29.0%) had a throat culture, 88 (30.8%) were prescribed antibiotics, 15 (5.2%) were positive for GAS and 74 (25.9%) were given corticosteroids in the ED or at discharge. Of those with a Centor score of 2-3, 156 (47.6%) had a throat culture, 220 (67.1%) were prescribed antibiotics, 44 (13.4%) were positive for GAS, and 145 (44.2%) were given corticosteroids. Of those with a Centor score ≥ 4, 14 (58.3%) had a throat culture, 18 (75.0%) were prescribed antibiotics, 7 (29.2%) were positive for GAS and 12 (50.0%) were given corticosteroids. Conclusion: As predicted, a higher Centor score was associated with higher risk of GAS infection, increased antibiotic prescribing and use of corticosteroids. Many patients with low Centor scores were prescribed antibiotics and also had throat cultures. Further work is required to understand clinical decision making for the management of acute pharyngitis.
Introduction: The emergency department (ED) is often the first point of health care contact for patients with mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI). Spontaneous resolution occurs in most patients within 7 days, yet 15-30% will develop post-concussion syndrome (PCS). Given the paucity of effective management strategies to prevent PCS and emerging evidence supporting exercise, the objective of this study was to evaluate the impact of prescribed early light exercise compared to standard discharge instructions for acute MTBI patients in the ED. Methods: This was a randomized controlled trial conducted in three Canadian EDs. Consecutive, adult (18-64 years) ED patients with a MTBI sustained within the preceding 48 hours were eligible for enrollment. The intervention group received discharge instructions prescribing 30 minutes of daily light exercise (e.g., walking), and the control group was given standard MTBI instructions advising gradual return to exercise following symptom resolution. Participants documented their daily physical activities and completed follow-up questionnaires at 7, 14, and 30 days. The primary outcome was the proportion of patients with PCS at 30 days, defined as the presence of ≥ 3 symptoms on the Rivermead Post-concussion Symptoms Questionnaire (RPQ) at 30 days. Results: 367 patients were enrolled (control n = 184; intervention n = 183). Median age was 32 years and 201 (57.6%) were female. There was no difference in the proportion of patients with PCS at 30 days (control 13.4 vs intervention 14.6; Δ1.2, 95% CI: -6.2 to 8.5). There were no differences in median change of RPQ scores (control 14 vs intervention 13; Δ1, 95% CI: -1 to 4), median number of return health care provider visits (control 1 vs intervention 1; Δ0, 95% CI: 0 to 0), or median number of missed school or work days (control 2 vs intervention 2; Δ0, 95% CI: 0 to 1) at 30 days. There was a nonsignificant difference in unplanned return ED visits within 30 days (control 9.9% vs intervention 5.6%; Δ1, 95% CI: -1.4 to 10.3). Participants in the control group reported fewer minutes of light exercise at 7 days (30 vs 35; Δ5, 95% CI: 2 to 15). Conclusion: To our knowledge, this is the first randomized trial of prescribed early light exercise for adults with acute MTBI. There were no differences in recovery or healthcare utilization outcomes. Results suggest prescribed early light exercise should be encouraged as tolerated at ED discharge following MTBI, but exercise prescription alone is not sufficient to prevent PCS.
Introduction: eCTAS is a real time electronic triage decision-support tool designed to improve patient safety and quality of care by standardizing the application of the Canadian Triage and Acuity Scale (CTAS). The tool dynamically calculates a recommended CTAS score based on the presenting complaint, vital signs and selected clinical modifiers. The primary objective was to assess consistency of CTAS score distributions across 35 emergency departments (EDs) by 16 presenting complaints pre and post eCTAS implementation. Methods: This retrospective cohort study used population-based administrative data from January 2016 to December 2018 from all hospital EDs in Ontario that had implemented eCTAS with at least 9 months of data. Following a 3-month stabilization period, we compared data for 6 months post-eCTAS implementation to the same 6-month period the previous year (pre-implementation) to account for potential seasonal variation, patient volume and case-mix. We included triage encounters of adult (≥18 years) patients if they had one of 16 pre-specified high-volume, presenting complaints. A paired-samples t-test was used to determine consistency by estimating the absolute difference in CTAS distribution for each presenting complaint, by each hospital, pre and post eCTAS implementation, compared to the overall average of the 35 EDs. Results: There were 183,231 triage encounters in the pre-eCTAS cohort and 179,983 in the post-eCTAS cohort from 35 EDs across the province. Triage scores were more consistent with the overall average after eCTAS implementation in 6 (37.5%) presenting complaints: chest pain (cardiac features) (p < 0.001), extremity weakness/symptoms of cerebrovascular accident (p < 0.001), fever (p < 0.001), shortness of breath (p < 0.001), syncope (p = 0.02), and hyperglycemia (p = 0.03). Triage consistency was similar pre and post eCTAS implementation for the presenting complaints of altered level of consciousness, anxiety/situational crisis, confusion, depression/suicidal/deliberate self-harm, general weakness, head injury, palpitations, seizure, substance misuse/intoxication or vertigo. Conclusion: A standardized, electronic approach to performing triage assessments increased consistency in CTAS scores across many, but not all, high-volume CEDIS complaints. This does not reflect triage accuracy, as there are no known benchmarks for triage accuracy. Improvements in consistency were greatest for sentinel presenting complaints with a minimum allowable CTAS score.
Introduction: For rhythm control of acute atrial flutter (AAFL) in the emergency department (ED), choices include initial drug therapy or initial electrical cardioversion (ECV). We compared the strategies of pharmacological cardioversion followed by ECV if necessary (Drug-Shock), and ECV alone (Shock Only). Methods: We conducted a randomized, blinded, placebo-controlled trial (1:1 allocation) comparing two rhythm control strategies at 11 academic EDs. We included stable adult patients with AAFL, where onset of symptoms was <48 hours. Patients underwent central web-based randomization stratified by site. The Drug-Shock group received an infusion of procainamide (15mg/kg over 30 minutes) followed 30 minutes later, if necessary, by ECV at 200 joules x 3 shocks. The Shock Only group received an infusion of saline followed, if necessary, by ECV x 3 shocks. The primary outcome was conversion to sinus rhythm for ≥30 minutes at any time following onset of infusion. Patients were followed for 14 days. The primary outcome was evaluated on an intention-to-treat basis. Statistical significance was assessed using chi-squared tests and multivariable logistic regression. Results: We randomized 76 patients, and none was lost to follow-up. The Drug-Shock (N = 33) and Shock Only (N = 43) groups were similar for all characteristics including mean age (66.3 vs 63.4 yrs), duration of AAFL (30.1 vs 24.5 hrs), previous AAFL (72.7% vs 69.8%), median CHADS2 score (1 vs 1), and mean initial heart rate (128.9 vs 126.0 bpm). The Drug-Shock and Shock only groups were similar for the primary outcome of conversion (100% vs 93%; absolute difference 7.0%, 95% CI -0.6;14.6; P = 0.25). The multivariable analyses confirmed the similarity of the two strategies (P = 0.19). In the Drug-Shock group 21.2% of patients converted with the infusion. There were no statistically significant differences for time to conversion (84.2 vs 97.6 minutes), total ED length of stay (9.4 vs 7.5 hours), disposition home (100% vs 95.3%), and stroke within 14 days (0 vs 0). Premature discontinuation of infusion (usually for transient hypotension) was more common in the Drug-Shock group (9.1% vs 0.0%) but there were no serious adverse events. Conclusion: Both the Drug-Shock and Shock Only strategies were highly effective and safe in allowing AAFL patients to go home in sinus rhythm. IV procainamide alone was effective in only one fifth of patients, much less than for acute AF.
Introduction: The opioid crisis has reached epidemic levels in Canada, driven in large part by prescription drug use. Emergency physicians are frequent prescribers of opioids; therefore, the emergency department (ED) represents an important setting for potential intervention to encourage rational and safe prescribing. The objective of this study was to systematically review the literature on interventions aimed to influence opioid prescribing in the ED. Methods: Electronic searches of Medline and Cochrane were conducted and reference lists were hand-searched. All quantitative studies published in English from 2009 to 2019 were eligible for inclusion. Two reviewers independently screened the search output to identify potentially eligible studies, the full texts of which were retrieved and assessed for inclusion. Outcomes of interest included opioid prescribing rate (proportion of ED visits resulting in an opioid prescription at discharge), morphine milligram equivalents per prescription and variability among prescribers. Results: The search strategy yielded 797 potentially relevant citations. After eliminating duplicate citations and studies that did not meet eligibility criteria, 34 potentially relevant studies were retrieved in full text. Of these, 28 studies were included in the review. The majority (26, 92.9%) of studies were based in the United States and two (7.1%) were from Australia. Four (14.3%) were randomized controlled trials. The interventions were classified into six categories: prescribing guidelines (n = 10), regulation/rescheduling of opioids (n = 6), prescribing data transparency (n = 4), education (n = 4), care coordination (n = 3), and electronic medical record changes (n = 1). The majority of interventions reduced the opioid prescribing rate from the ED (21/28, 75.0%), although regulation/rescheduling of opioids had mixed effectiveness, with 3/6 (50%) studies reporting a small increase in the opioid prescribing rate post-intervention. Education had small yet consistent effects on reducing the opioid prescribing rate. Conclusion: A variety of interventions have attempted to improve opioid prescribing from the ED. These interventions include prescribing guidelines, regulation/rescheduling, data transparency, education, care coordination, and electronic medical record changes. The majority of interventions reduced the opioid prescribing rate; however, regulation/rescheduling of opioids demonstrated mixed effectiveness.
Introduction: Acute heart failure (AHF) is a common emergency department (ED) presentation and may be associated with poor outcomes. Conversely, many patients rapidly improve with ED treatment and may not need hospital admission. Because there is little evidence to guide disposition decisions by ED and admitting physicians, we sought to create a risk score for predicting short-term serious outcomes (SSO) in patients with AHF. Methods: We conducted prospective cohort studies at 9 tertiary care hospital EDs from 2007 to 2019, and enrolled adult patients who required treatment for AHF. Each patient was assessed for standardized real-time clinical and laboratory variables, as well as for SSO (defined as death within 30 days or intubation, non-invasive ventilation (NIV), myocardial infarction, coronary bypass surgery, or new hemodialysis after admission). The fully pre-specified, logistic regression model with 13 predictors (age, pCO2, and SaO2 were modeled using spline functions with 3 knots and heart rate and creatinine with 5 knots) was fitted to the 10 multiple imputation datasets. Harrell's fast stepdown procedure reduced the number of variables. We calculated the potential impact on sensitivity (95% CI) for SSO and hospital admissions and estimated a sample size of 170 SSOs. Results: The 2,246 patients had mean age 77.4 years, male sex 54.5%, EMS arrival 41.1%, IV NTG 3.1%, ED NIV 5.2%, admission on initial visit 48.6%. Overall there were 174 (7.8%) SSOs including 70 deaths (3.1%). The final risk scale is comprised of five variables (points) and had c-statistic of 0.76 (95% CI: 0.73-0.80): 1.Valvular heart disease (1) 2.ED non-invasive ventilation (2) 3.Creatinine 150-300 (1) ≥300 (2) 4.Troponin 2x-4x URL (1) ≥5x URL (2) 5.Walk test failed (2) The probability of SSO ranged from 2.0% for a total score of 0 to 90.2% for a score of 10, showing good calibration. The model was stable over 1,000 bootstrap samples. Choosing a risk model total point admission threshold of >2 would yield a sensitivity of 80.5% (95% CI 73.9-86.1) for SSO with no change in admissions from current practice (48.6% vs 48.7%). Conclusion: Using a large prospectively collected dataset, we created a concise and sensitive risk scale to assist with admission decisions for patients with AHF in the ED. Implementation of this risk scoring scale should lead to safer and more efficient disposition decisions, with more high-risk patients being admitted and more low-risk patients being discharged.
Introduction: Emergency department (ED) boarding is associated with worse outcomes for critically ill patients. There have been mixed findings in other patient populations. The primary objective of this study was to examine predictors of prolonged ED boarding among cancer patients receiving chemotherapy who required hospital admission from the ED. Secondary objectives were to examine the association between prolonged ED boarding and in-hospital mortality, 30-day mortality, and hospital length of stay (LOS). Methods: Using administrative databases from Ontario, we identified adult (≥ 18 years) cancer patients who received chemotherapy within 30 days prior to a hospital admission from the ED between 2013 to 2017. ED boarding time was calculated as the time from the decision to admit the patient to when the patient physically left the ED. Prolonged ED boarding was defined as ≥ 8 hours. Multivariable logistic regression was used to examine predictors of prolonged ED boarding and to determine if prolonged boarding was associated with mortality. Multivariable quantile regression was used to determine the association between prolonged boarding and hospital LOS. Results: 45,879 patients were included in the study. Median (interquartile range (IQR)) ED LOS of stay was 11.8 (7.0, 21.7) hours and median (IQR) ED boarding time was 4.2 (1.6, 14.2) hours. 17,053 (37.2%) patients had prolonged ED boarding. Severe ED crowding was the strongest predictor of prolonged ED boarding (odds ratio: 17.7, 95% CI: 15.0 to 20.9). Prolonged ED boarding was not associated with in-hospital mortality or 30-day mortality. Median hospital LOS was over 9 hours (p <0.0001) longer among patients with the longest ED boarding times. Conclusion: Severe ED crowding was associated with a significant increase in the odds of prolonged ED boarding. While our study demonstrated that prolonged boarding was not associated with increased mortality, further work is required to understand if ED boarding is associated with other adverse outcomes in this immunocompromised population.
Introduction: The emergency department (ED) is the first point of health care contact for most head injured patients. Although early and spontaneous resolution occurs in most patients with mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI), between 15-30% develop post-concussion syndrome (PCS). To date, clinical prediction tools do not yet exist to accurately identify adult MTBI patients at risk of PCS. The objective of this study was to identify predictors of PCS within 30 days in adults with acute MTBI presenting to the ED. Methods: This was a secondary analysis of a randomized controlled trial conducted in three Canadian EDs evaluating prescribed light exercise compared to standard care. Adult (18-64 years) patients with a MTBI sustained within the preceding 48 hours were eligible for enrollment. Participants completed follow-up questionnaires at 7, 14, and 30 days. The primary outcome was the presence of PCS at 30 days, defined as the presence of ≥ 3 symptoms on the Rivermead Post-concussion Symptoms Questionnaire (RPQ) at 30 days. Backward, stepwise, multivariable logistic regression with a removal criterion probability of 0.05 was conducted to determine predictor variables independently associated with PCS at 30 days. Likelihood ratio tests were used to determine appropriate inclusion of variables in the multivariable model. Results are reported as odds ratios (OR) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs). Results: A total of 367 patients were enrolled, 18 (4.9%) withdrew, and 108 (29.4%) were lost to follow-up. Median (IQR) age was 32 (25 to 48) years, and 201 (57.6%) were female. Of the 241 patients who completed follow-up, 49 (20.3%) had PCS at 30 days. Headache at ED presentation (OR = 6.59; 95% CI: 1.31 to 33.11), being under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of injury (OR = 4.42; 95% CI: 1.31 to 14.88), the injury occurring via bike or motor vehicle collision (OR = 2.98; 95% CI: 1.39 to 6.40), history of anxiety or depression (OR = 2.49; 95% CI: 1.23 to 5.03), and the sensation of numbness or tingling at ED presentation (OR = 2.25; 95% CI: 1.04 to 4.88), were independently associated with PCS at 30 days. Conclusion: Five variables were found to be significant predictors of PCS. Although MTBI is a self-limited condition in the majority of patients, patients with these risk factors should be considered high risk and flagged for early follow-up. There continues to be an urgent need for a clinical prognostic tool that accurately identifies adult patients at risk for PCS early in their injury.
Introduction: For rhythm control of acute atrial fibrillation (AAF) in the emergency department (ED), choices include initial drug therapy or initial electrical cardioversion (ECV). We compared the strategies of pharmacological cardioversion followed by ECV if necessary (Drug-Shock), and ECV alone (Shock Only). Methods: We conducted a randomized, blinded, placebo-controlled trial (1:1 allocation) comparing two rhythm control strategies at 11 academic EDs. We included stable adult patients with AAF, where onset of symptoms was <48 hours. Patients underwent central web-based randomization stratified by site. The Drug-Shock group received an infusion of procainamide (15mg/kg over 30 minutes) followed 30 minutes later, if necessary, by ECV at 200 joules x 3 shocks. The Shock Only group received an infusion of saline followed, if necessary, by ECV x 3 shocks. The primary outcome was conversion to sinus rhythm for ≥30 minutes at any time following onset of infusion. Patients were followed for 14 days. The primary outcome was evaluated on an apriori-specified modified intention-to-treat (MITT) basis excluding patients who never received the study infusion (e.g. spontaneous conversion). Data were analyzed using chi-squared tests and logistic regression. Our target sample size was 374 evaluable patients. Results: Of 395 randomized patients, 18 were excluded from the MITT analysis; none were lost to follow-up. The Drug-Shock (N = 198) and Shock Only (N = 180) groups (total = 378) were similar for all characteristics including mean age (60.0 vs 59.5 yrs), duration of AAF (10.1 vs 10.8 hrs), previous AF (67.2% vs 68.3%), median CHADS2 score (0 vs 0), and mean initial heart rate (119.9 vs 118.0 bpm). More patients converted to normal sinus rhythm in the Drug-Shock group (97.0% vs 92.2%; absolute difference 4.8%, 95% CI 0.2-9.9; P = 0.04). The multivariable analyses confirmed the Drug-Shock strategy superiority (P = 0.04). There were no statistically significant differences for time to conversion (91.4 vs 85.4 minutes), total ED length of stay (7.1 vs 7.7 hours), disposition home (97.0% vs 96.1%), and stroke within 14 days (0 vs 0). Premature discontinuation of infusion was more common in the Drug-Shock group (8.1% vs 0.6%) but there were no serious adverse events. Conclusion: Both the Drug-Shock and Shock Only strategies were highly effective and safe in allowing AAF patients to go home in sinus rhythm. A strategy of initial cardioversion with procainamide was superior to a strategy of immediate ECV.
Introduction: The Ontario emergency department (ED) Return Visit Quality Program (RVQP) launched in 2016 and aims to promote continuous quality improvement (QI) in the province's largest EDs. The program mandates routine audits of cases involving patients who had ED return visits within 72hrs that led to admission to hospital, in order to identify quality issues that can be tackled through QI initiatives. Our objective was to formally evaluate how well the RVQP achieved its aim of promoting continuous QI at participating sites using the constructivist grounded theory. Methods: Using a semi-structured interview guide, we employed a maximum variation sampling approach to ensure diverse representation across several geographical and institutional experiences (e.g., urban vs. rural, academic vs. community). Selected RVQP program leads were invited to participate in a phone interview to yield maximal insight, additionally using a snowball sampling approach to reach non-lead physicians to capture the penetration of the program. Interviews were conducted until thematic saturation was reached and no new insights were gleaned. Interviews were initially cross-performed by two members of the research team, recorded, transcribed, and de-identified. Data analysis was conducted using a constant comparative approach through the development of a coding framework and triangulation with the respondents’ ED setting. We then grouped, compared and refined our analytic categories through an inductive, iterative approach. Results: Between June and August 2018, we interviewed 32 participants, including 21 RVQP program leads and 11 non-lead physicians, from a total of 23 diverse sites (out of 84). Our analysis suggests that the RVQP provides a structured method for EDs to frame the continuous collection of data in order to channel activities towards quality improvement projects based on identified needs. Success factors included: greater involvement with QI processes prior to the RVQP leading to more openness to improvement, a more collaborative approach to RVQP implementation which led to greater front-line workers’ understanding and engagement, and more resources dedicated to implementing the RVQP as well as tackling the quality issues it identified. Conclusion: This study evaluated the impact of an innovative and large-scale program aimed at improving the culture of quality in Ontario EDs. While the program is still relatively new, early results show that there are key elements of EDs that support building a culture of QI.
Introduction: Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a chronic relapsing and highly comorbid disease. Patients suffering from AUD are frequently seen in the emergency department (ED) presenting intoxicated or in withdrawal. Brief interactions in the ED are often the only portal of entry to the healthcare system for many of these patients. Oral naltrexone and long acting injectable naltrexone are effective treatment options for AUD associated with decreased cravings, shorter length of hospital stay, and lower cost of healthcare utilization. This study's objective was to perform a systematic review of the literature evaluating initiation of naltrexone in the ED. Methods: Electronic searches of Medline, EMBASE, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews and CINAHL were conducted and reference lists were hand-searched. Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) comparing initiation of naltrexone in patients (≥18 years) to standard care in the ED were included. Two reviewers independently screened titles and abstracts, reviewed full text articles for inclusion, assessed quality of the studies, and extracted data. Results: The search strategy yielded 183 potentially relevant citations. After eliminating duplicate citations and studies that did not meet eligibility criteria, 10 articles were retrieved for full text review. There were no published RCTs that examined naltrexone initiation in the ED. There is one ongoing study being conducted in New York, which aims to assess naltrexone initiation in the ED and measure health outcomes and quality of life of study participants, as well as potential healthcare cost savings. Conclusion: The lack of published research in this area demonstrates a significant gap in knowledge. It is clear that well-designed RCTs are needed to evaluate the effectiveness of initiating naltrexone for those with AUD at the ED visit.
Introduction: Choosing Wisely Canada guidelines suggest that in the absence of red flags or clinical indicators suggestive of serious underlying conditions, physicians should not order radiological images for patients presenting with non-specific low back pain, and current recommendations do not endorse routine prescribing of opioids for this condition. The objective of this study was to determine how many patients presenting to the ED with non-traumatic low back pain have spinal imaging and how many are discharged home on opioids. Methods: We conducted a retrospective medical record review for adult (>17 years) patients presenting to an academic tertiary care ED with non-traumatic low back pain from April 1st 2014 to March 31st 2015 (pre-guideline) and April 1st 2017 to March 31st 2018 (post-guideline). Patients were excluded if they were >70 years old, were not discharged home, had a traumatic injury, features of cauda equina syndrome, weight loss, history of cancer, fever, night sweats, chronic use of systemic corticosteroids, chronic use of illicit intravenous drugs, first episode of low back pain over 50 years of age, abnormal reflexes, loss of motor strength or loss of sensation in the legs. Results: 1060 (545 pre-guideline, 515 post-guideline) were included. Mean (SD) age was 39.6 (12.3) years and 549 (51.8%) were female. Pre-guideline, 45 (8.3%) patients had spinal imaging, compared to 39 (7.6%) post-guideline (Δ 0.7%; 95% CI: −2.6% to 4.0%). Of the 84 (7.9%) patients who had spinal imaging, 4 (8.9%) had pathologic findings pre-guideline, compared to 10 (25.6%) patients post-guideline. The proportion of patients discharged home with a prescription for opioids was lower after the Choosing Wisely Canada guidelines (40.9% vs. 11.1%; Δ29.8%; 95% CI: 24.8% to 34.7%). Conclusion: Choosing Wisely Canada guidelines did not appear to alter the rate of imaging for patients presenting to the ED with non-traumatic low back pain. Overall the rate of spinal imaging was lower than expected. The proportion of patients who were discharged home with a prescription for opioids was lower after the Choosing Wisely Canada guidelines, however we don't know if this represents an overall trend in the reduction of opioid prescribing, or a specific change in practice related to the ED management of low back pain.
Introduction: We previously derived (N = 559) and validated (N = 1,100) the 10-item Ottawa Heart Failure Risk Scale (OHFRS), to assist with disposition decisions for patients with acute heart failure (AHF) in the emergency department (ED). In the current study we sought to use a larger dataset to develop a more concise and more accurate risk scale. Methods: We analyzed data from the prior two studies and from a new cohort. For all 3 groups we conducted prospective cohort studies that enrolled patients who required treatment for AHF at 8 tertiary care hospital EDs. Patients were followed for 30 days. The primary outcome was short-term serious outcome (SSO), defined as death within 30 days, intubation or non-invasive ventilation (NIV) after admission, myocardial infarction, or relapse resulting in hospital admission within 14 days. The fully pre-specified logistic regression model with 13 predictors (where age, pCO2, and SaO2 were modeled using spline functions) was fitted to 10 multiple imputation datasets. Harrell's fast stepdown procedure reduced the number of variables. We calculated the potential impact on sensitivity (95% CI) for SSO and hospital admissions, and estimated a sample size of 2,000 patients. Results: The 1,986 patients had mean age 77.3 years, male 54.1%, EMS arrival 41.2%, IV NTG 3.3%, ED NIV 5.4%, admission on initial visit 49.5%. Overall there were 236 (11.9%) SSOs including 61 deaths (3.1%), meaning that current admission practice sensitivity for SSO was only 59.7%. The final HEARTRISK6 scale is comprised of 6 variables (points) (C-statistic 0.68): Valvular heart disease (2) Antiarrhythmic medication (2) ED non-invasive ventilation (3) Creatinine 80–150 (1); ≥150 (3) Troponin ≥3x URL (2) Walk test failed (1). The probability of SSO ranged from 4.8% for a total score of 0 to 62.4% for a score of 10, showing good calibration. Choosing a HEARTRISK6 total point admission threshold of ≥3 would yield sensitivity of 70.8% (95%CI 64.5-76.5) for SSO with a slight decrease in admissions to 47.9%. Choosing a threshold of ≥2 would yield a sensitivity of 84.3% (95%CI 79.0-88.7) but require 66.6% admissions. Conclusion: Using a large prospectively collected dataset, we created a more concise and more sensitive risk scale to assist with admission decisions for patients with AHF in the ED. Implementation of the HEARTRISK6 scale should lead to safer and more efficient disposition decisions, with more high-risk patients being admitted and more low-risk patients being discharged.
Introduction: In addition to its clinical utility, the Canadian Triage and Acuity Scale (CTAS) has become an administrative metric used by governments to estimate patient care requirements, emergency department (ED) funding and workload models. The electronic Canadian Triage and Acuity Scale (eCTAS) initiative aims to improve patient safety and quality of care by establishing an electronic triage decision support tool that standardizes that application of national triage guidelines across Ontario. The objective of this study was to evaluate triage times and score agreement in ED settings where eCTAS has been implemented. Methods: This was a prospective, observational study conducted in 7 hospital EDs, selected to represent a mix of triage processes (electronic vs. manual), documentation practices (electronic vs. paper), hospital types (rural, community and teaching) and patient volumes (annual ED census ranged from 38,000 to 136,000). An expert CTAS auditor observed on-duty triage nurses in the ED and assigned independent CTAS in real time. Research assistants not involved in the triage process independently recorded triage time. Interrater agreement was estimated using unweighted and quadratic-weighted kappa statistics with 95% confidence intervals (CIs). Results: 1491 (752 pre-eCTAS, 739 post-implementation) individual patient CTAS assessments were audited over 42 (21 pre-eCTAS, 21 post-implementation) seven-hour triage shifts. Exact modal agreement was achieved for 567 (75.4%) patients pre-eCTAS, compared to 685 (92.7%) patients triaged with eCTAS. Using the auditor's CTAS score as the reference standard, eCTAS significantly reduced the number of patients over-triaged (12.0% vs. 5.1%; Δ 6.9, 95% CI: 4.0, 9.7) and under-triaged (12.6% vs. 2.2%; Δ 10.4, 95% CI: 7.9, 13.2). Interrater agreement was higher with eCTAS (unweighted kappa 0.89 vs 0.63; quadratic-weighted kappa 0.91 vs. 0.71). Research assistants captured triage time for 3808 patients pre-eCTAS and 3489 post implementation of eCTAS. Median triage time was 312 seconds pre-eCTAS and 347 seconds with eCTAS (Δ 35 seconds, 95% CI: 29, 40 seconds). Conclusion: A standardized, electronic approach to performing CTAS assessments improves both clinical decision making and administrative data accuracy without substantially increasing triage time.
Introduction: In addition to its clinical utility, the Canadian Triage and Acuity Scale (CTAS) has become an administrative metric used by governments to estimate patient care requirements, ED funding and workload models. The Electronic Canadian Triage and Acuity Scale (eCTAS) initiative aims to improve patient safety and quality of care by establishing an electronic triage decision support tool that standardizes the application of national triage guidelines (CTAS) across Ontario. The objective of this study was to evaluate the implementation of eCTAS in a variety of ED settings. Methods: This was a prospective, observational study conducted in 7 hospital EDs, selected to represent a mix of triage processes (electronic vs. manual), documentation practices (electronic vs. paper), hospital types (rural, community and teaching) and patient volumes (annual ED census ranged from 38,000 to 136,000). An expert CTAS auditor observed on-duty triage nurses in the ED and assigned independent CTAS in real time. Research assistants not involved in the triage process independently recorded the triage time. Interrater agreement was estimated using unweighted and quadratic-weighted kappa statistics with 95% confidence intervals (CIs). Results: 1200 (738 pre-eCTAS, 462 post-implementation) individual patient CTAS assessments were audited over 33 (21 pre-eCTAS, 11 post-implementation) seven-hour triage shifts. Exact modal agreement was achieved for 554 (75.0%) patients pre-eCTAS, compared to 429 (93.0%) patients triaged with eCTAS. Using the auditors CTAS score as the reference standard, eCTAS significantly reduced the number of patients over-triaged (12.1% vs. 3.2%; 8.9, 95% CI: 5.7, 11.7) and under-triaged (12.9% vs. 3.9%; 9.0, 95% CI: 5.9, 12.0). Interrater agreement was higher with eCTAS (unweighted kappa 0.90 vs 0.63; quadratic-weighted kappa 0.79 vs. 0.94). Research assistants captured triage time for 4403 patients pre-eCTAS and 1849 post implementation of eCTAS. Median triage time was 304 seconds pre-eCTAS and 329 seconds with eCTAS ( 25 seconds, 95% CI: 18, 32 seconds). Conclusion: A standardized, electronic approach to performing CTAS assessments improves both clinical decision making and administrative data accuracy without substantially increasing triage time.
Introduction: The emergency department (ED) is often the first point of access to the health care system for patients with an acute mental health crisis. Outpatient resources are limited, typically do not operate after hours, and patients and their families often lack sufficient information on where and how to access mental health services within their communities. The objective of this study was to determine which community healthcare resources patients attempted to access for their mental health condition prior to presenting to the ED. Methods: Between April 2016 to June 2017, a convenience sample of adult ( 18 years) patients presenting to an academic ED (annual census 65,000) with a mental health complaint were invited to complete a 23-item, paper-based survey. The questionnaire was pilot-tested and peer-reviewed for feasibility and comprehension. Results: Of the 200 patients who completed the survey, mean (SD) age was 37 (16) years and 96 (48%) were male. 20 (10%) patients were brought to the ED involuntarily by police services. 175 (88%) had been previously diagnosed with a mental health condition, the most common being depression and/or anxiety (n=134, 67%). 47 (24%) patients indicated they were currently only connected to a primary care provider, while 94 (47%) patients indicated they had existing relationships with multiple mental healthcare providers. 117 (59%) patients attempted to see an alternative healthcare provider prior to coming to the ED. 78 (39%) patients had a pending scheduled appointment with a healthcare provider for their mental health condition, 44 (56%) of which were within 7 days of their ED visit, but chose to seek care in the ED. 38 (19%) patients either had a referral with no appointment date set, or had an impending mental health appointment scheduled more than 30 days from their ED visit. Conclusion: These findings suggest that most patients seeking ED care during a mental health crisis do so despite being connected to alternative healthcare providers and outpatient services. Future studies should attempt to determine reasons why patients with mental health conditions seek care in the ED, and examine barriers to mental health care in the community and outpatient setting.
Introduction: The optimal management of emergency department (ED) patients with alcohol withdrawal syndrome (AWS) includes a symptom driven approach with scheduled reassessments using a standardized scoring system (Clinical Institute Withdrawal Assessment for Alcohol-Revised; CIWA-Ar) and treatments according to symptom severity. The subjective nature of the CIWA-Ar, and lack of standardized competency-based education related to alcohol withdrawal results in widely variable treatment. The objective of this study was to perform a summative evaluation of clinical staff during the objective structured clinical examination (OSCE) of a simulated patient (SP) with AWS. Methods: The AWS education curriculum was completed by all staff nurses in our ED (mandatory for full-time, optional to part-time staff). It was based on a real clinical scenario depicting moderate alcohol withdrawal and portrayed by a single SP. Prior to the OSCE, participants attended a seminar orienting them to the simulation. Each participant was asked to do a complete assessment of the SP, and graded for completeness on 37 individual components of history/physical exam, including the 10 domains of the CIWA-Ar. Results: 74 participants completed the educational curriculum over 8 weeks. At least 9/10 domains of the CIWA-Ar assessment were completed by 65 (88%) of participants, and 28 (38%) correctly assessed at least 80% of all summative evaluation components. 63 (85%) participants correctly identified the need for treatment of withdrawal symptoms. Only 13 (18%) participant assessments exactly matched our exact target CIWA-Ar score of 15, however 61% were within 2 points on the CIWA-Ar scale. In only 4 (5%) instances would a participant have inappropriately rated AWS severity below the treatment threshold. 62/72 (86%) participants rated the SP tremor as 2-4 (intended tremor =3). Clinical features most often overlooked were history of other addictions (25 participants, 33%) and history of liver disease (15 participants, 20%). Conclusion: The majority of participants in this OSCE correctly assessed the important elements in the assessment of AWS, and diagnosed the SP as having moderate alcohol withdrawal. Thus our educational intervention resulted in 85% of participants properly identifying the severity of AWS, and developing an appropriate treatment strategy. The impact of this curriculum on actual patient treatment requires further evaluation.
Introduction: Ideal management of alcohol withdrawal syndrome (AWS) incorporates a symptom driven approach, whereby patients are regularly assessed using a standardized scoring system (Clinical Institute Withdrawal Assessment for Alcohol-Revised; CIWA-Ar) and treated according to severity. Accurate administration of the CIWA-Ar requires experience, yet there is no training program to teach this competency. The objective of this study was to develop and evaluate a web-based curriculum to teach clinicians how to accurately assess and treat AWS. Methods: This was a three-phase educational program consisting of a series of 3 e-learning modules of core competency material, in-person seminar to orient learners to high fidelity simulation, and summative evaluation in an OSCE setting using a standardized patient. To determine the ED impact of the AWS curriculum, we recorded how often the CIWA-Ar was appropriately applied in the ED pre and post training. ED length of stay, total dose of benzodiazepines administered in the ED, and number of prescriptions and unit benzodiazepine doses given upon discharge were also recorded. Results: 74 nurses from an academic ED completed the AWS curriculum. There were 130 and 126 patients in the pre and post AWS training periods, respectively. Management of AWS was not compliant with CIWA-Ar protocol in 78 (60.0%) and 46 (36.5%) patients pre and post AWS training, respectively ( 23.5%; 95% CI: 11.3%, 34.7%), resulting in administration of benzodiazepine when it was not required, or not giving benzodiazepines with a CIWA-Ar score of 10. There was an average of 4 CIWA-Ar scores per patient in both the pre and post implementation periods. Prior to AWS training, 144/560 (25.5%) CIWA-Ar scores resulted in a breach of protocol, compared to 64/547 (11.7%) following AWS training ( 13.8%; 95% CI: 9.3%, 18.3%). Median total dose of benzodiazepines administered in the ED was lower after the implementation of the AWS curriculum (40mg vs 30mg; 10 mg; 95% CI: 0mg, 20mg). ED length of stay and the amount of benzodiazepines given to patients at discharge were similar between groups. Conclusion: This AWS curriculum appears to be an effective way to train ED clinicians on the proper administration of the CIWA-Ar protocol, and results in improved patient care.
Introduction: In Canada, family physicians (FPs) provide the majority of early pregnancy care. To receive a same day US, most patients will be sent to the emergency department (ED). FPs are starting to use point of care ultrasound (POCUS) for a variety of indications. The FaMOUS course was modeled after the Canadian Emergency Ultrasound Society (CEUS) ED Echo (EDE) curriculum and adapted with permission for FPs. The objective of this study was to assess the indications for POCUS use in early pregnancy and determine the diagnostic accuracy of POCUS performed by FPs following FaMOUS certification to detect intrauterine pregnancy (IUP) and fetal cardiac activity (FCA). Methods: This was a prospective, observational study conducted in 3 FP clinics from November 2015 to June 2016. Pregnant women <20 weeks gestational age who underwent a focused, transabdominal POCUS by a FaMOUS-certified FP using a handheld GE VScan were enrolled. FPs documented the presence or absence of IUP and FCA. The reference standard was radiologist-interpreted US performed after the FP POCUS. FPs were surveyed to assess provider confidence using POCUS and perceived impact on clinical decision-making. Results: Of 253 eligible patients, 56 (22.1%) underwent POCUS. Of these, 50 (89.3%) had a radiologist-interpreted US following the office-based FP visit. POCUS was used for the following indications: 11 (19.6%) had vaginal bleeding, 5 (8.9%) had abdominal pain, 7 (12.5%) had both vaginal bleeding and abdominal pain, and the indication for 33 (58.9%) patients was unclear. All patients had a documented IUP, resulting in a sensitivity of 94.0% (95% CI: 83.5%, 98.5%) and 100% positive predictive value. FCA resulted in sensitivity of 82.9% (95% CI: 69.2, 92.4%) and specificity of 100% (95% CI: 29.2%, 100.0%). When surveyed, 100% of FPs were confident performing POCUS and reported POCUS had an overall positive impact on clinical practice. 75% agreed the use of POCUS decreased the need for urgent radiologist-interpreted US. Conclusion: Following a certification process modeled after the CEUS EDE curriculum, FPs used POCUS for both CEUS-defined indications and indications that were unclear. FPs trained in early pregnancy POCUS demonstrated excellent diagnostic accuracy identifying IUP and FCA. Future study should assess the clinical impact of office-based POCUS, including whether its use results in decreased ED visits for this patient population.
Background: Emergency department (ED) providers are frequently challenged with how best to treat acute pain in older patients, specifically when non-opioid analgesics are ineffective or contraindicated. Studies have documented older patients presenting to the ED with painful conditions are less likely to receive pain medications than younger patients, and this oligoanalgesia has been associated with increased risk of delirium and longer hospital stays. Given the concerns for drug interactions, side effects, over-sedation and addiction, emergency physicians often report uncertainty regarding the ideal choice of opioid analgesic in older adults. There are no guidelines informing best practice for the management of acute pain in this population. Objective: The primary objective is to compare the efficacy of codeine, oxycodone and hydromorphone for acute fracture pain in older patients discharged from the ED. Methods: This will be a blinded, randomized controlled trial of older adults (age>70) discharged home from the ED with acute pain secondary to an upper extremity, lower extremity, rib, pelvic or vertebral compression fracture. Patients will be randomized to receive a 3-day supply of codeine, oxycodone or hydromorphone. Patients will also be given acetaminophen. Patients will be contacted by phone or email 3 days following their ED visit. The primary outcome will be differences in pain scores at 3 days assessed using the validated Brief Pain Inventory (Short Form). Secondary outcomes will include side effects (ie: confusion, constipation), adverse events (ie: falls, healthcare visits) and pain interference with daily activity. Patients, physicians and all research staff will be blinded to group allocation. Data Analysis Plan: The study design assumed three arms (codeine, oxycodone and hydromorphone), therefore the 2-tailed alpha will be set to 0.025 to adjust for the increased risk of type-I error with 3 pairwise comparisons. To test for pairwise equality between groups, a 1-way ANOVA will be employed. Proportional differences will be assessed using Pearson chi-square statistic. Sample size calculation: Assuming a mean (SD) change in pain scores between groups of 2.2 (3.0), a minimum clinically important difference on the Brief Pain Inventory of 2.0, a 2-tailed alpha of 0.025 to adjust for 3 pairwise comparisons and a beta of 0.20, we estimate that 47 patients per group (N=141) will be required. To account for potential loss to follow-up, we will increase our sample size by 25% per group, resulting in a final sample size of 177 patients (59 per group). Importance: All analgesics (including opioids) prescribed to older adults are associated with risk of adverse events. This study seeks to inform ED providers of opioid efficacy, side effects and patient-important, functional outcomes in this growing patient population.