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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: The Maximizing Aging Using Volunteer Engagement in the ED (MAUVE + ED) program connects specially trained volunteers with older patients whose personal and social needs are not always met within the busy ED environment. The objective of this study was to describe the development and implementation of the MAUVE + ED program and the activities performed with older patients by its volunteers. Methods: The MAUVE + ED program was implemented in the ED (annual census 65,000) of a large academic tertiary hospital in Toronto, Ontario. Volunteers were trained to identify and approach older patients and others at greater risk for adverse outcomes, including poor patient experience, in the ED and invite such patients to participate in the program. The program is available to all patients >65 years, and those with confusion, patients who were alone, those with mobility issues, and patients with increased length of stay in the ED. Volunteers documented their activities after each patient encounter using a standardized paper-based data collection form. Results: Over the program's initial 6-month period, the MAUVE + ED volunteers reported a total of 896 encounters with 718 unique patients. The median (IQR) time a MAUVE volunteer spent with a patient was 10 (5, 20) minutes, with a range of 1 to 130 minutes. The median (IQR) number of patients seen per shift was 7 (6, 9), with a range of 1 to 16 patients per shift. The most common activities the volunteer assisted with were therapeutic activities/social visits (n = 859; 95.9%), orientation activities (n = 501; 55.9%), and hydration assistance (n = 231; 25.8%). The least common were mobility assistance (n = 36; 4.0%), and vision/hearing assistance (n = 13; 1.5%). Conclusion: Preliminary data suggest the MAUVE + ED volunteers were able to enrich the experience of older adults and their families/carers in the ED.
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: Women experiencing early pregnancy loss or threatened loss frequently seek care in emergency departments (ED) or early pregnancy clinics (EPC). The dearth of existing qualitative studies has left understudied questions about how these women perceive their healthcare and which strategies best meet their supportive care needs, particularly in the Canadian context. The objective of this study was to deepen our understanding of these women's experiences and gain insight into how clinicians and healthcare services can lessen the impact of this traumatic event on patients and their families. Methods: We conducted a descriptive qualitative study of women who presented to the ED or EPC at an urban tertiary care hospital and an urban community hospital for early pregnancy loss or threatened loss. Purposive sampling was used to recruit patients for in-depth, one-on-one telephone interviews conducted 4-6 weeks after the index visit. Data collection and analysis were concurrent and continued until thematic saturation had occurred. Data analysis was led by two qualitative researchers with support from a multi-disciplinary research team following standard thematic analysis techniques. Results: Interviews were completed with 59 women between July 2018 and August 2019. Participants ranged in age from 22 to 47 years and reflect the diversity of the multicultural city where the study occurred. Our analysis revealed that the medicalization and normalization of early pregnancy complications among ED and EPC clinicians is at odds with women's general lack of knowledge about the frequency, personal risk, causation, duration, and physical intensity of the miscarriage experience. Women identified the value of rapid access to appointments, point of care ultrasound, detailed care plans, and knowledgeable advice as key to lessening the physical and emotional trauma related to early pregnancy loss. Conclusion: This research highlights the physical, emotional, and psychological complexity of a medical situation frequently minimized within the current healthcare system. The results impart important knowledge about which aspects of ED and EPC care are most valued by women experiencing early pregnancy loss or threatened loss and demonstrate the clear need for women and their families to be provided with more education about the totality of the early pregnancy experience, including the possibility of pregnancy complications and loss.
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: Women experiencing complications of early pregnancy frequently seek care in the emergency department (ED), as most have not yet established care with an obstetrical provider. The objective of this study was to explore the lived experiences and perceptions of care of women treated for early pregnancy complications in the ED and early pregnancy clinic (EPC). Methods: We conducted an interpretive phenomenological qualitative study of women who presented to the ED or EPC of an urban tertiary care hospital with early pregnancy loss or threatened loss. We employed purposive sampling to recruit participants for in-depth, one-on-one telephone interviews conducted approximately 6 weeks after the index visit. Data collection and analysis were concurrent and continued until thematic saturation had occurred. Our research team of two qualitative researchers, a clinician, a clinical researcher, and a research student performed a phenomenologically-informed thematic analysis including three phases of coding to identify essential patterns of lived experience and meaning across the sample. Results: Interviews were completed with 30 women between July and August 2018. Participants ranged in age from 22 to 45 years and reflected the diversity of the multicultural city where the study occurred. Four key themes of patient experience were identified: tensions between what is known and unknown by women and ED staff about early pregnancy complications and care in hospital, stigmatization of early pregnancy complications and ED use, normalization of a chaotic experience, and the overwhelm of unexpected outcomes during the ED visit. Conclusion: The perspectives of women attending the ED or EPC for early pregnancy complications highlights the ways in which the current health care system minimizes and medicalizes early pregnancy complications in this setting and fails to adequately support these women. The emotional complexity of this medical situation is often overlooked by ED staff and can produce encounters that are traumatic for patients and families. However, the participants’ negative experiences occurring in the ED were often mitigated with their care in their follow-up with the EPC.
Introduction: Little is known about the variety of roles volunteers play in the emergency department (ED), and the potential impact they have on patient experience. The objective of this scoping review was to identify published and unpublished reports that described volunteer programs in EDs, and determine how these programs impacted patient experiences or outcomes. 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. A grey literature search was also conducted (Web of Science, ProQuest, Canadian Business and Current Affairs Database ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global). Two reviewers independently screened titles and abstracts, reviewed full text articles, and extracted data. Results: The search strategy yielded 4,589 potentially relevant citations. After eliminating duplicate citations and articles that did not meet eligibility criteria, 87 reports were included in the review. Of the included reports, 18 were peer-reviewed articles, 6 were conference proceedings, 59 were magazine or newspaper articles, and 4 were graduate dissertations or theses. Volunteer activities were categorized as non-clinical tasks (e.g., provision of meals/snacks, comfort items and mobility assistance), navigation, emotional support/communication, and administrative duties. 52 (59.8%) programs had general volunteers in the ED and 35 (40.2%) had volunteers targeting a specific patient population, including pediatrics, geriatrics, patients with mental health and addiction issues and other vulnerable populations. 20 (23.0%) programs included an evaluative component describing how ED volunteers affected patient experiences and outcomes. Patient satisfaction, follow-up and referral rates, ED and hospital costs and length of stay, subsequent ED visits, medical complications, and malnutrition in the hospital were all reported to be positively affected by volunteers in the ED. Conclusion: This scoping review demonstrates the important role volunteers play in enhancing patient and caregiver experience in the ED. Future volunteer engagement programs implemented in the ED should be formally described and evaluated to share their success and experience with others interested in implementing similar programs in the ED.
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: Patient assessment is a fundamental feature of non-emergency community paramedicine (CP) home visit programs. In the absence of a recognized standard for CP assessment, current assessment practices in CP programs are unknown. Without knowing what community paramedics are assessing, it is difficult to ascertain what should be included in patient care plans, whether interventions are beneficial, or whether paramedics are meeting program objectives. Our objective was to summarize the content of assessment instruments used in CP programs in order to describe the state of current practice. Methods: We performed an environmental scan of all CP programs in Ontario, Canada, and employed content analysis to describe current assessment practices in CP home visit programs. The International Classification on Functioning, Disability, and Health (ICF) was used to categorize and compare assessments. Each item within each assessment form was classified according to the ICF taxonomy. Findings were compared at the domain and sub-domain of the ICF. Results: Of 54 paramedic services in Ontario, 43 responded to our request for information. Of 24 services with CP home visit programs, 18 provided their intake assessment forms for content analysis. Assessment forms contained between 13 and 252 assessment items (median 116.5, IQR 134.5). Overall, most assessments included some content from each of the domains outlined in the ICF, including: Impairments of Body Functions, Impairments of Body Structures, Activity Limitation and Participation, and Environmental Factors. At the sub-domain level, only assessment of Impairments of the Functions of the Cardiovascular, Haematological, Immunological and Respiratory systems appeared in all assessments. Few CP home visit program assessments covered most ICF sub-domain categories and many items classified to specific categories were included in only a few assessments. Conclusion: CP home visit programs complete multi-domain assessments as part of patient intake. The content of CP assessments varied across Ontario, which suggests that care planning and resources may not be consistent. Current work on practice guidelines and paramedic training can build from descriptions of assessment practices to improve quality of care and patient safety. By identifying what community paramedics assess, evaluation of the quality of CP home visit programs and their ability to meet program objectives can be improved and benchmarks in patient care can be established.
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: 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.
Despite extensive research on organizational virtue, our understanding about factors that promote virtue within organizations remains unclear. Drawing on upper echelon theory, we examine the relationship between five top management team (TMT) characteristics and organizational virtue orientation (OVO)—the integrated set of values and beliefs that support ethical traits and virtuous behaviors of an organization. Specifically, we utilize prospectuses of initial public offering (IPO) firms and 10-K post-IPO filings to explore how TMT composition with respect to member age, tenure, education, functional background, and gender influences OVO. Additionally, we examine the moderating effects of organizational size, and argue that the more expansive structures and processes associated with larger organizations diminish the main relationships. Our findings, using two sources of data, are consistent, but somewhat mixed in their support for our hypotheses. Overall, TMT characteristics do appear to influence OVO, but in more complex and counterintuitive ways than initially expected.
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.