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Introduction: Qualitative research with emergency department (ED) patients in Alberta has revealed that some patients have limited understanding of the ED care process and that this increases the anxiety, frustration and confusion experienced throughout their visit. The objective of this study was to design, implement, and test the usefulness of a poster explaining the ED care process. Methods: As part of a stepped-wedge ED intervention trial in Alberta, a 4′ x 3′ poster portraying the patient ED care process was developed and posted in 15 study site waiting rooms. Trained research assistants approached patients in 3 urban ED waiting areas and invited them to complete a short paper-based survey on the acceptability and usefulness of the poster. Results are reported as proportions. Results: A total of 316 patients agreed to participate in this study. Approximately half of the participants were male and 60% were between the ages of 17 and 49. The majority of participants identified themselves as white (72%) and nearly half (49%) were accompanied by someone. A third (37%) of patients had read the wall poster prior to being approached to complete the survey. Most patients (62%) who had not read it prior to being approached hadn't noticed the poster or couldn't see it because of its location. Once patients reviewed the poster, the vast majority (92%) reported completely or largely understanding the information and most (84%) found it at least moderately helpful in preparing them for their ED journey. Approximately 45% of respondents agreed that they learned something new about the ED care process by reading the poster and 20% wanted additional information added to the poster; largely, wait time estimates (53% of responses). Conclusion: Placing posters in the ED is one method for equipping patients for their ED care process; however, this study revealed the potential limited utility of this engagement method by the small number of patients who noticed the poster and read the information. Location and content (e.g., time estimates) were identified as key factors for implementation. Condition-specific guides may need to supplement general ED process guides to better prepare patients for their individual ED journey and to actively engage them in their ED care.
Introduction: Patient engagement in health decision-making is an important research area within emergency medicine. Studies suggest that patients are often not highly engaged in care decisions, and may not be aware that there are decisions in which they can be involved. This study explored emergency physicians (EPs) perceptions of their patient engagement practices. Methods: As part of a stepped-wedge randomized controlled trial, an introductory seminar was held at 15 emergency department (ED) sites in Alberta. Seminars highlighted physician-patient communication and expectation gaps documented in local studies. As part of the seminar evaluation, EPs were asked to reflect on their engagement of patients in their practice. Descriptive results are reported. Results: A total of 114 EP surveys were returned. The majority of respondents were male (68%) and nearly 40% of respondents have practiced emergency medicine for 5 years or less. Less than half of the EPs (43%) reported always or usually asking their patients about their ED visit care expectations. Approximately one-third (32%) reported always or usually checking their patients’ understanding of management options (e.g., tests, treatments and/or procedures). Patients management preferences were always or usually elicited 24% of the time. Despite limited consistency in ascertaining patients’ preferences, 39% of EPs indicated that they always or usually considered their patients’ preferences when choosing a management plan. Half of the EPs (51%) reported that they always or usually involved their patients in decision-making. Yet, when asked whether other EPs involved their patients in decision-making, only 15% reported that they believed their fellow clinicians did this always or usually. On average, 68% of respondents believed their patients wanted to be completely or mostly involved in their ED and decision-making; however, 16% believed patients were actually completely or mostly involved in the ED care and decision-making. Conclusion: EPs agreed that patients want to be actively involved in their ED care decisions. Yet, their reflection on their own practice, and especially their perception of their colleagues’, highlight large gaps between physicians’ perception of what patients would like and what patients actually receive. Further research should explore these interactions in depth, understand what constrains EPs from involving patients and explore patient perceptions of these interactions.
Introduction: Acute migraine headaches are common causes of presentation to the emergency department (ED). There is great variability in the efficacy of the available parenteral agents to manage pain, though triptans are among the recommended treatments. The objective of this systematic review was to update a previous review examining the effectiveness of parenteral agents for the treatment of acute migraine in the ED or equivalent acute care setting; our review examined pain management in emergency settings and assessed the effectiveness of triptan agents. Methods: A comprehensive search of 10 electronic databases and grey literature was conducted to supplement the previous systematic review. Two independent reviewers completed study selection, quality assessment, and data extraction. Any discrepancies were resolved by third party adjudication. Pain scale scores were analyzed using standardized mean difference (SMD) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) calculated using a random effects model; heterogeneity (I2) was reported. Results: Titles and abstracts of 5039 unique studies were reviewed, of which, 51 studies were included. Sixty-four studies from the original review were included, resulting in a total of 115 included studies. Pain was measured within the ED or equivalent acute care setting using a variety of pain scales, most commonly the 0-10 cm or 100 mm visual analog scale. Four studies compared pain scores between patients receiving sumatriptan vs. other agents, of which, patients receiving sumatriptan reported higher pain scale scores (SMD = 0.53; 95% CI: 0.04, 1.02; I2 = 80%). In particular, patients receiving sumatriptan reported higher pain scale scores than patients receiving metoclopramide (SMD = 0.68; 95% CI: 0.31, 1.04; n = 1) or ketorolac (SMD = 1.39; 95% CI: 0.56, 2.21; n = 1). Overall, studies comparing anti-inflammatory agents (i.e., ketorolac or dexketoprofen) to other agents reported improved pain scale scores among patients receiving anti-inflammatory agents (SMD = -0.38; 95% CI: -0.73, -0.03; I2 = 66%; n = 5). Conclusion: Limited evidence suggests that patients treated with metoclopramide or anti-inflammatory agents experience greater pain reduction compared to patients treated with sumatriptan. This review will conduct a network analysis of parenteral agents to examine the comparative effectiveness of parenteral agents to manage pain among patients with acute migraine. Further analysis will also consider the balance between efficacy and adverse events.
Introduction: Emergency Department (ED) consultations are often necessary for safe and effective patient care. Delays in throughput related to ED consultations can increase a patient's ED length of stay (LOS) and contribute to ED crowding. This review aimed to characterize and evaluate interventions to improve consultation metrics. Methods: Eight primary literature databases and the grey literature were comprehensively searched. Comparative studies of interventions to improve ED consultation metrics were included. Unique citations were screened for relevance and the full-texts of relevant articles were reviewed by two independent reviewers. Data on study characteristics and outcomes were extracted in duplicate onto standardized forms. Disagreements were resolved through consensus. Categorical variables are reported as proportions. Continuous variables are reported as the median of the means and total range. Results: After screening 2632 unique citations and 19 from the grey literature items, 24 studies were included. Seventeen interventions targeted specific conditions or speciality services, while the remainder targeted all ED presentations. Interventions fell into three broad categories: strategies to expedite patient care, including clinical pathways (42%); interventions to improve consultant responsiveness (33%); and addition of a specialized care team to the ED (25%). Overall, eight studies reported on the overall proportion of consults in the ED, of which six reported an increase in the consultation proportion (median: +0.6%, range: −11.3% to +49.6%). Six studies reported the proportion of consulted patients who were admitted, of which four reported an increase (median: +1.1%, range: −5.9% to +3.5%). On the other hand, six of seven studies reporting on time from request to consult arrival reported a decrease (median: −25 minutes, range: −66 to +3.8 minutes). Similarly, overall ED LOS was reported to be lower in 17/19 studies reporting this metric (median: −47.6 minutes, range: −600 minutes to +59 minutes). Conclusion: A variety of strategies have been employed to improve ED consultation processes and outcomes. Neither the proportion of consulted patients in the ED nor the proportion of admissions were improved; however, interventions appeared successful at improving consultant arrival times and overall ED LOS. Improvements in consultation processes may be an effective strategy to improve ED throughput and thereby reduce ED crowding.
Introduction: While consultation is a common and important aspect of emergency department (ED) care, a previous systematic review identified significant utilization and process variation across ED's. The aim of this review update was to examine the proportion of the patients undergoing consultation in the ED among recent studies. Methods: Eight primary literature databases and the grey literature were searched. Studies published from 2007 to 2018 focusing on all-comers to the ED and reporting a consultation-related outcome were included. Disease- and specialty-specific studies were not eligible. Two independent reviewers screened studies for relevance, inclusion, quality assessment, and data extraction. Disagreements were resolved through consensus. Means, medians and interquartile ranges are reported. Wilcoxon-rank sum test and one-way ANOVA were used to identify differences between groups, as appropriate. Results: A total of 2632 unique citations and 49 studies from the grey literature were screened, of which 29 primary studies were included. Fifteen studies reported on the proportion of ED patients undergoing consultation, involving EDs in the Middle East (n = 4), North America (n = 4), Asia (n = 4), and Europe (n = 3). Overall, the proportion of patients receiving consultation ranged from 7% to 78% (median: 26%; IQR: 20%, 38%). There were no differences in the proportions of consulted patients based on country of origin. Ten studies were conducted prior to 2013, while five studies recruited patients during and after 2013. The mean proportion of consulted patients was lower for post-2012 studies compared to pre-2012 studies (mean: 18% vs. 36%; p = 0.0048). The proportion of consulted patients admitted to hospital ranged considerably between the 14 reporting studies (median: 56%; IQR: 49%, 76%). No differences in the proportion of admitted patients undergoing a consult were identified based on country of origin or year of recruitment for the study. Conclusion: Although consultation utilization appears to be decreasing overall, there is considerable practice variation in EDs around the world. These differences may result from variation in patient acuity, case-load, staffing levels, institutional and health-system organization, and medical training and future research should explore reasons for these differences.
Introduction: Variation in image ordering exists across Alberta emergency departments (EDs). Evidence-based, pocket-sized knowledge dissemination tools were developed for two conditions (acute asthma [AA] and benign headache [BHA]) for which imaging (chest x-ray [CXR] and computed tomography [CT], respectively) has limited utility. This study explored tool acceptability among ED patients and emergency physicians (EPs). Methods: Tool feedback was provided by EPs, via online survey, and adult patients with AA and BHA via in-person survey. EPs qualitative interviews further explored communication tools. Preliminary descriptive analyses of survey responses and content analysis of interview data were conducted. Results: Overall, 55 EPs (55/192; 29%) and 38 consecutive patients participated in the AA study; 73 EPs (73/192; 38%) and 160 patients participated in the BHA study. In both studies, approximately 50% of EPs felt comfortable using the tool; however, they suggested including radiation risk details and imaging indications and removing references to imaging variation and health system cost. In the BHA study, EPs opposed the four Choosing Wisely® campaign questions fearing they would increase imaging expectations. In both conditions, most patients ( >90%) understood the content and 68% felt the information applied to them. Less than half (AA:45%; BHA: 38%) agreed that they now knew more about when a patient should have imaging workup done. Following tool review, 71% of AA and 50% of BHA patients stated they would discuss their imaging needs with their ED care provider today or during a future presentation. Both patient groups suggested including: additional imaging details (i.e., indications, risk, clinical utility), removing imaging overuse references, and including instructions that encourage patients to ask their EP questions. EP interviews (n = 12) identified preferences for personalized and interactive tools. Tensions were perceived around ED time pressure as well as remuneration schemes that fail to prioritize patient conversation. Tool centralization, easy access, and connection with outpatient support were also key themes. Conclusion: Both patients and EPs provided valuable information on how to improve ED knowledge dissemination tools, using two chronic conditions to demonstrate how these changes would improve tool utility. Implementing these recommendations, and considering preferences of EPs and patients, may improve future tool uptake and impact.
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: Efforts to engage patients in research when presenting to emergency departments (EDs) have explored the utility of online tools; for example, through QR-based applications. It is unclear whether these are effective strategies for engaging patients in research activities while saving costs of in-person surveys. This study evaluated whether patients would participate in QR codes or short URL-linked surveys available in EDs across Alberta. Methods: A patient waiting room poster was developed as part of a stepped-wedge randomized controlled trial. The waiting room poster was introduced in 15 urban and regional Alberta EDs with a median annual volume of approximately 60,000. A QR-code and short URL were placed on the poster inviting patients to participate in an online survey and evaluate the poster's usefulness and acceptability. Additionally, written discharge instructions, which were part of the intervention materials, were distributed with QR-code and short URL link to surveys for patients to share their ED care experience. Patients were not prompted by any staff or research personnel to encourage use of the QR codes or the short URLs; however, a survey was conducted with ED waiting room patients in 3 urban EDs to ascertain whether they had downloaded a QR reader on their devices and the frequency of use of these applications. Results: Given the stepped-wedge nature of the study, these materials were available for a total of approximately 123 months (3 sites for 13 months, 4 sites for 10 months, 4 sites for 7 months, and 4 sites for 4 months). Over the study period, 15 patients accessed and completed the online survey linked to the QR code or the short URL placed on the posters. No patients completed the online surveys linked to the QR code or the short URL placed on the discharge instructions. The in-person survey conducted within the ED waiting room identified that 34% of respondents had a QR code reader downloaded on their phone (108/316). Of those with a QR reader, 33% reported using the reader at least once within the last 6 months. Conclusion: In this study, few patients downloaded QR readers on their electronic devices while in the ED waiting room. Without prompting, this appears to be an ineffective strategy for engaging patients in emergency medicine research. Other engagement strategies optimizing human resource investment are urgently needed to effectively conduct research in EDs.
Introduction: Although a variety of parenteral agents exist for the treatment of acute migraine, relapse after an emergency department (ED) visit is still a common occurrence. The objective of this systematic review was to update a previous review examining the effectiveness of parenteral agents for the treatment of acute migraine in the ED or equivalent acute care setting; our review focused on those studies aiming a reduction in relapse after an ED visit. Methods: A comprehensive search of 10 electronic databases and grey literature was conducted to identify comparative studies to supplement the previous systematic review. Two independent reviewers completed study selection, quality assessment, and data extraction. Any discrepancies were resolved by third party adjudication. Relative risks (RR) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were calculated using a random effects model and heterogeneity (I2) was reported. Results: Titles and abstracts of 5039 unique studies were reviewed, of which, 51 studies were included. Sixty-four studies from the original review were included, resulting in a total of 115 included studies. Relapse was reported in 44 (38%) included studies and occurred commonly in patients receiving placebo or no interventions (median = 39%; IQR: 14%, 47%). Overall, no differences in headache relapse were found between patients receiving sumatriptan or placebo (RR = 1.09; 95% CI: 0.55, 2.17; I2 = 93%; n = 8). Conversely, patients receiving neuroleptic agents experienced fewer relapses compared to placebo (RR = 0.27; 95% CI: 0.12, 0.58; I2 = 0%; n = 3); however, patients receiving neuroleptics reported an increase in adverse events (RR = 1.87; 95% CI: 1.17, 3.00; I2 = 0%; n = 3). Compared to placebo, patients receiving dexamethasone were less likely to experience a headache recurrence (RR = 0.71; 95% CI: 0.53, 0.95; I2 = 60%, n = 9); however, no differences were found in reported adverse events (RR = 1.09; 95% CI: 0.81, 1.47; I2 = 0%; n = 3). Conclusion: Relapse is a common occurrence for patients with migraine headaches. This review found patients receiving neuroleptics or dexamethasone experienced fewer headache recurrences. Conversely, triptan agents appear to have minimal effect on reducing the risk for headache recurrence following discharge from an acute care setting. Limited available data on adverse events is an important limitation to inform decision-making. Guidelines should be revised to reflect these results.
Introduction: Variation in medication management and image ordering for HA presentation to emergency departments (ED) has been documented. This study examined benign HA (i.e., migraine, cluster, tension) management in order to identify the consistency and appropriateness of HA management in EDs in Alberta. Methods: Patients were identified by primary discharge diagnosis in the National Ambulatory Care Reporting System using ICD-10-CA codes for benign HA (G43, G44, R51). Patients presenting to study sites from January 1, 2017 to September 30, 2017 were eligible for inclusion, provided they were adults (≥18 years), were not transferred from another institution or directly admitted to a service, and had an active HA at presentation. One hundred eligible patients were randomly selected for chart review. Data were extracted on standardized forms. Preliminary data on 50 patients (n = 150) from three Edmonton study sites is presented. Results: Most patients arrived to the ED via personal transportation (93%) and were assigned a Canadian Triage and Acuity Scale (CTAS) score of 3 (71%). The majority of patients were female (75%); mean age was 45 years (standard deviation: 18). Triage pain score was not documented for 21%. When documented, pain scores were most frequently between 4 and 7 (49%). Nearly 10% of patients left without being seen. For those who were assessed, physicians most frequently used ketorolac and metoclopramide as first or second line treatments or as a combination treatment. Consults were infrequent (14%). Nearly half of the patients (47%). had computed tomography (CT) in the ED. Pain re-assessment was completed for 69% of patients. Most patients were discharged from the ED (88%) and given some form of discharge instruction (78%). The most common instructions were to return to ED as needed (45%) and follow-up with their primary care physician (28%). Across all patients, 13% returned to the ED with headache within 30 days. Conclusion: Physicians treat patients with benign headaches appropriately and hospitalization is infrequent; however, one in eight patients relapse. Missing pain scale documentation reveals a potential problem for ED clinicians in assessing management effectiveness and ensuring patients leave the ED following pain relief. Half of the patients received a CT scan, highlighting the urgent need for an intervention to address CT overuse for patients with benign HA within this geographic region.
Introduction: Benign headache (BHA) management varies across emergency departments (EDs). This study documented current BHA management by Alberta emergency physicians (EP) in order to develop a provincial intervention to improve standardized practice. Methods: A convenience sample of Alberta EPs completed an online survey exploring their ED BHA management practices. Results are expressed as proportions. Results: A total of 73 EPs (73/192; 38%) who were mostly male (63%) and practiced emergency medicine for at least 15 years (51%) responded. EPs reported routine ED orders for metoclopramide (97%), ketorolac (90%) and IV fluids (85%) for patients with BHA showing no signs of pathological headache. For moderate-severe BHA's that did not improve with routine treatment, preferences were: IV narcotic (58%), IV dexamethasone (44%), and IV/IM dihydroergotamine (27%). Typically, EPs reported not ordering investigations for moderate-severe BHA presentations (88%); however, for those not improving the most common investigation was computed tomography (CT; 47%). CT ordering was associated with the following clinical scenarios: 1) not responding to traditional therapy and consulted to specialist (64%); 2) not responding to traditional therapy and being admitted (64%); 3) first presentation and afebrile (19%); 4) severe pain (11%); and 5) responding to traditional therapy and febrile (11%). One-quarter of EPs (27%) believed their patients usually or frequently expected a CT. Most EPs (60%) reported being completely or mostly comfortable discussing CT risks. Only 44% reported always or usually discussing risks prior to ordering. EPs reported that they were most frequently prevented from discussing risks because the patient was critically ill (42%) or because they believed explaining risks would not alter patient expectations (21%). These concerns were mirrored in the barriers EPs anticipated to limiting imaging, specifically the fear of missing a severe condition (62%), and patient expectation/request for imaging (48%). Conclusion: Self-reported treatment preferences for uncomplicated BHAs appear to be relatively consistent. Chart reviews could help assessing the reliability of self-reported BHA management practices. Perceived patient expectation appears to be an important influence on EP imaging ordering. Studies examining the communication between EPs and their patients are needed to explore how these expectations and perceived expectations are negotiated in the ED.
Introduction: Hereditary angioedema (HAE) patients (both diagnosed and undiagnosed) commonly present to the emergency department (ED). Presenting symptoms (swelling and pain) may be erroneously attributed to common allergic and gastrointestinal conditions resulting in major delays in diagnosis and appropriate treatment. No published tools currently exist for HAE screening and management in undiagnosed disease. The overall goal of the study was to develop a HAE-RT tool for ED settings. Methods: A two-phase mixed methods approach was used to develop the HAE-RT Tool including: Phase 1: A Delphi Study [HAE specialists (N=9) and National Patient Advocacy Group Members (N=3)] was conducted to reach consensus (80% agreement) on predictor variables to include. Phase 2: A retrospective chart review was conducted to assess the predictive findings of the predictor variables. A convenient sample of patients presenting with angioedema (with and without HAE) between January 2012 January 2017 were included in the study. Results: Of the 12 experts invited, 9 (75%) participated in the Delphi study. Of 8 HAE-specific predictive variables, 4 reached consensuses including: (1) recurrent angioedema; (2) absence of urticaria; (3) past recurrent abdominal pain/swelling; (4) response to allergic therapy. The retrospective study included 85 patients (N=46 with HAE; N=39 non-HAE; overall 72% female). HAE patients were significantly more likely to have a family history of HAE (72% vs 0%; P<0.0001); previous recurrent angioedema (96%; P<0.009); present with no hives (91%; P<0.036); previous recurrent abdominal pain (80%; P<0.0001); and only 2% responded positively to allergy treatments (P<0.0001). Conclusion: Our study emphasizes the importance of key stakeholder involvement and feedback to facilitate the prioritization of important information that must be included in the design of an HAE-RT tool. The next step is to observe the effect of the HAE-RT tool on patient triage in the ED.
Introduction: Patients with concussion frequently present to the emergency department (ED). Studies of athletes and children indicate that concussion symptoms are often more severe and prolonged in females compared with males. To-date, study of sex-based concussion differences in general adult populations have been limited. This study examined sex-based differences in concussion outcomes. Methods: Adult (>17 years) patients presenting to one of three urban EDs in Edmonton, Alberta with Glasgow coma scale score 13 within 72 hours of a concussive event were recruited by on-site research assistants. Follow-up calls at 30 and 90 days post ED discharge captured extent of PCS using the Rivermead Post-Concussion questionnaire (RPQ), effect on daily living activities measured by the Rivermead Head Injury Questionnaire (RHIQ), and overall health-related quality of life using the 12-item Short Form Health Survey (SF-12). Dichotomous and categorical variables were compared using Fishers exact test; continuous variables were compared using t-tests or Mann-Whitney tests, as appropriate. Results: Overall, 130/250 enrolled patients were female. The median age was 35 years; men trended towards being younger (median=32 years; IQR: 23, 45) than women (median=40 years; IQR: 22, 52). Compared to women, more men were single (56% vs 38% (p=0.007) and employed (82% vs 71% (p=0.055). Men and women experienced different injury mechanisms (p=0.007) with more women reporting injury due to a fall (44% vs 26%), while more men were injured at work (16% vs 7%) or due to an assault (11% vs. 3%). Men had a higher return to ED rate (13% vs. 5%; p=0.015). Women had higher RPQ scores at baseline (p<0.001) and 30-day follow-up (p=0.001); this difference was not significant by 90 days (p=0.099). While women reported on the RHIQ at 30 days that their injury affected their usual activities significantly more than men (Median=5, IQR: 0, 11 vs. median=0.5, IQR: 0.5, 7; p=0.004), both groups had similar scores on the SF-12 physical composite and mental composite scales at all three measurement points. Conclusion: In a general ED concussion population, demographic differences exist between men and women. Based on self-reported and objective outcomes, womens usual activities may be more affected by concussion and PCS than men. Further analysis of these differences is required in order to identify different treatment options and ensure adequate care and treatment of injury.
Introduction: Choosing Wisely Canada® (CWC) launched in April 2012. Since then, the Emergency Medicine (EM) top-10 list of tests, treatments and procedures to avoid has been released and initiatives are on-going. This study explored CWC awareness and support among emergency physicians. Methods: A 60-question online survey was distributed to Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians (CAEP) members with valid e-mails. The survey collected information on demographics, awareness/support for CWC as well as physicians’ perceived barriers and facilitators to implementation. Descriptive statistics were performed in SPSS (Version 24). Results: Overall, 324 surveys were completed (response rate: 18%). Respondents were more often male (64%) and practiced at academic/tertiary care hospitals (56%) with mixed patient populations (74%) with annual ED volumes of >50,000 (70%). Respondents were familiar with campaigns to improve care (90%). Among these respondents, 98% were specifically familiar with CWC and 73% felt these campaigns assisted them in providing high-quality care. Respondents felt that the top-5 EM recommendations were supported by high quality evidence, specifically the first 4 recommendations (>90% each). The most frequently reported barriers to implementation were: patients’ expectations/requests (33%), the possibility of missing severe condition(s) (20%), and requirements of ED consultations (12%). Potential facilitators were identified as: strong evidence-base for recommendations (37%), medico-legal protection for clinicians who adhere to guidelines (13%), and support from institutional leadership (11%). Conclusion: CWC is well-known and supported by emergency physicians. Despite the low response rate, exploring the barriers and facilitators identified here could enhance CWC’s uptake in Canadian emergency departments.
Introduction: Recently, campaigns placing considerable emphasis on improving emergency department (ED) care by reducing unnecessary tests, treatments, and/or procedures have been initiated. This study explored how Canadian emergency physicians (EPs) conceptualize unnecessary care in the ED. Methods: An online 60-question survey was distributed to EP-members of the Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians (CAEP) with valid emails. The survey explored respondents awareness/support for initiatives to improve ED care (i.e., reduce unnecessary tests, treatments and/or procedures) and asked respondents to define “unnecessary care” in the ED. Thematic qualitative analysis was performed on these responses to identify key themes and sub-themes and explore variation among EPs definitions of unnecessary care. Results: A total of 324 surveys were completed (response rate: 18%); 300 provided free-text definitions of unnecessary care. Most commonly, unnecessary ED care was defined as: 1) performing tests, treatments, procedures, and/or consults that were not indicated or potentially harmful (n=169) and/or 2) care that should have been provided within a non-emergent context for a non-urgent patient (n=143). Emergency physicians highlighted the role of system-level factors and system failures that result in ED presentations as definitions of unnecessary care (n=69). They also noted a distinction between providing necessary care for a non-urgent patient and performing inappropriate/non-evidenced based care. Finally, a tension emerged in their description of frustration with patient expectations (n=17) and/or non-ED referrals (n=24) for specific tests, treatments, and/or procedures. These frustrations were juxtaposed by participants who asserted that “in a patient-centred care environment, no care is unnecessary” (Participant 50; n=12). Conclusion: Variation in the definition of unnecessary ED care is evident among EPs and illustrates that EPs’ conceptualization of unnecessary care is more nuanced than current campaigns addressing ED care improvements represent. This may contribute to a perceived lack of uptake or support for these initiatives. Further exploring EPs perceptions of these campaigns has the potential to improve EP engagement and influence the language utilized by these programs.
Introduction: Headache is a common emergency department (ED) presentation. Benign (i.e., non-pathological) headaches are particularly common, including exacerbations of chronic migraine, tension, and cluster headache. Several studies have reported concerns over the frequent use of advanced imaging, specifically computed tomography (CT), in the ED management of benign or primary headache presentations. This systematic review examined the proportion of adult ED benign headache presentations who receive a CT(head). Methods: Eight bibliographic databases and the grey literature were searched. All studies reporting the proportion of benign headache patients receiving a CT(head) in the ED were eligible for inclusion. Studies which included a secondary headache population of 15% of their total study population or less where eligible for inclusion. Two reviewers independently assessed study inclusion and completed quality assessment and data extraction. Weighted medians were calculated for the primary and secondary outcomes, as appropriate. Results: The search returned 2,444 unique citations, of which 20 met the inclusion criteria (21 patient groups were analyzed). The majority of the studies were descriptive in nature and conducted in North America. The reported proportion of benign headache patients receiving a CT(head) varied considerably (range: 2.06-67.21%); with a weighted median of 30.0% (interquartile range: 30.0, 30.0). Studies published in 2000 or later (18/21 groups) were found to have a higher weighted median percentage compared to those published pre-2000 (p=0.016). Neither the country of origin nor the proportion of patients with secondary headache included within the study population had a significant effect on CT utilization. Of the three studies which reported the discharge diagnosis of all patients, sub-arachnoid hemorrhage was discovered in 2/241 (0.83%) of CT scans. Conclusion: Considerable variation in CT utilization for benign headache ED presentations exists and estimates indicate that more than a quarter of patients receive a CT(head). Overall, these CT scans rarely identify significant pathology, suggesting imaging may be safely reduced. Further research is required to identify interventions which can safely and effectively reduce unnecessary imaging among headache presentations.
Introduction: The majority of syncope patients transported to the emergency department (ED) by emergency medical services (EMS) are low-risk with very few suffering serious adverse events (SAE) within 30-days and over 50% are diagnosed with vasovagal syncope. These patients can potentially be diverted by EMS to alternate pathways of care (primary care or syncope clinic) if appropriately identified. We sought to identify high-risk factors associated with SAE within 30-days of ED disposition as a step towards developing an EMS clinical decision tool. Methods: We prospectively enrolled adult syncope patients who were transported to 5 academic EDs by EMS. We collected standardized variables at EMS presentation from history, clinical examination and investigations including ECG and ED disposition. We also collected concerning symptoms identified and EMS interventions. Adjudicated SAE included death, myocardial infarction, arrhythmia, structural heart disease, pulmonary embolism, hemorrhage and procedural interventions. Multivariable logistic regression was used for analysis. Results: 990 adult syncope patients (mean age 58.9 years, 54.9% females and 16.8% hospitalized) were enrolled with 137 (14.6%) patients suffering SAE within 30-days of ED disposition. Of 42 candidate predictors, we identified 5 predictors that were significantly associated with SAE on multivariable analysis: ECG abnormalities [OR=1.77; 95%CI 1.36-2.48] (non-sinus rhythm, high degree atrioventricular block, left bundle branch block, ST-T wave changes or Q waves), cardiac history [OR=2.87; 95%CI 1.86-4.41] (valvular or coronary heart disease, cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, arrhythmias or device insertions), EMS interventions or concerning symptoms [OR=4.88; 95%CI 3.13- 7.62], age >50 years [OR=3.18; 95%CI 1.68-6.02], any abnormal vital signs [OR=1.58; 95%CI 1.03-2.42] (any EMS systolic blood pressure >180 or <100 mmHg, heart rate <50 or >100/minute, respiratory rate >25/minute, oxygen saturation <91%). [C-statistic: 0.81; Hosmer Lemeshow p=0.30]. Conclusion: We identified high-risk factors that are associated with 30-day SAE among syncope patients transported to the ED by EMS. This will aid in the development of a clinical decision tool to identify low-risk patients for diversion to alternate pathways of care.
Introduction: Unnecessary imaging of adult cervical spine (C-spine) injury patients in the Emergency Department (ED) is a concern. Guidance for C-spine image ordering exists; however, the effectiveness and safety of their implementation in the ED is not well studied. This review examines their implementation and effectiveness at reducing C-spine imaging in adults presenting to the ED with stable neck trauma. Methods: Six electronic databases and the grey literature were searched. Comparative studies examining interventions to reduce C-spine imaging were eligible for inclusion. Two independent reviewers screened for study eligibility, assessed study quality, and extracted data. Data were analyzed using RevMan (Version 5.3) to explore the effectiveness of these interventions in safely reducing C-Spine radiography. Results: A total of 848 unique citations were screened of which six before-after studies and one randomized controlled trial were included. The study population varied with respect to injury severity (i.e., stability status). None of the studies were assessed as high quality. The interventions employed included locally developed guidelines and clinical decision rules, specifically the National X-radiography Utilization Study (NEXUS) criteria and the Canadian C-Spine Rule (CCR). Various implementation strategies, such as teaching sessions, pocket reminder cards, posters and computerized decision support were used. Several studies used multi-faceted interventions. Overall, of the five study groups that examined change in x-ray ordering, three groups reported a significant reduction in c-spine radiography. The remaining two showed no change in imaging. A pooled estimate of the effectiveness of the interventions was prohibited by significant heterogeneity. Conclusion: The evidence regarding the effectiveness of interventions to reduce C-spine imaging in adult ED patients with stable neck trauma is inconclusive. Given the national and international focus on improving appropriateness and reducing unnecessary imaging through campaigns such as Choosing Wisely®, additional interventional research in this field is warranted.
Introduction: A recent cross-sectional study reported a 17.3% prevalence of pulmonary embolism (PE) among patients with syncope. However, the study had several flaws including spectrum and work-up bias with over-diagnosis due to excessive investigations. We sought to evaluate the prevalence of PE among Canadian emergency department (ED) patients presenting with syncope. Methods: We enrolled adults with syncope at 5 EDs and collected demographics, proportion of patients evaluated for suspected PE, their Wells PE score values and results of investigations [d-dimer, computed angiography (CT) of chest or ventilation-perfusion (VQ) scan]. 30-day adjudicated outcome included diagnosis of PE requiring treatment. We used descriptive statistics to report the results. Results: 4,739 patients [mean age 54.3 years, 54.4% females, and 587 (12.4%) hospitalized] were enrolled. 323 patients (6.8%) had further evaluation and investigations performed for suspected PE: 255 patients had D-dimer performed, 140 had CT chest and 17 had VQ performed. Of the 323 patients, 300 patients were low risk (Wells score ≤4) and 23 were high-risk (score >4). A total of 16 patients (0.3%) in the study cohort were diagnosed with PE: 10 patients were diagnosed in the ED, 5 patients were diagnosed while hospitalized as inpatient, and 1 patient was diagnosed on a return ED visit. Overall the prevalence of PE was 0.3% among all ED patients with syncope; and a 0.9% among those hospitalized for syncope. Conclusion: Our study shows that the prevalence of PE is very low among all patients presenting to the ED with syncope. The prevalence is also very low among those hospitalized for syncope than previously reported. While PE should be suspected and further investigations performed among syncope patients if clinically appropriate, caution should also be taken against indiscriminate over-investigations for PE.
Introduction: Low back pain (LBP) is an extremely frequent emergency department (ED) presentation. Although LBP imaging often results in no change to the ED management, does not identify abnormalities, and has documented risks (e.g., radiation exposure), advanced imaging (i.e., computed tomography [CT], magnetic resonance imaging [MRI]) for patients with LBP has become increasingly frequent in the ED. The objective of this review was to identify and examine the effectiveness and safety of interventions aimed at reducing imaging in the ED for LBP patients. Methods: Six bibliographic databases and grey literature were searched. Comparative studies assessing interventions aimed at reducing ED imaging for adult patients with LBP were eligible for inclusion. Two reviewers independently screened study eligibility, completed data extraction, and assessed the quality of included studies. Due to a limited number of studies and significant heterogeneity, a descriptive analysis was performed. Results: The search yielded 510 unique citations of which three before-after studies were included. Quality assessment identified potential biases relating to comparability between the pre- and post-intervention groups, reliable assessment of outcomes, and an overall lack of information on the intervention (i.e., time point, description, intervention data collection). The interventions to reduce lumbar spine imaging varied considerably. Study interventions included: 1) clinical decision support (i.e., a specialized X-ray requisition form), which reported a 47.4% relative reduction of lumbar spine radiography referrals; 2) clinical decision guidelines, which reduced referrals by 43.8%; and 3) multidisciplinary protocols, which reported a reduction in the MRI referral rate by 26.1%. Despite reductions in simple imaging, CT use increased in two of the three studies. Conclusion: LBP has been identified as a key area of imaging overuse (e.g., Choosing Wisely recommendation). Yet, evidence of interventions’ effectiveness in reducing imaging for ED patients with LBP is sparse. While there is some evidence to suggest that interventions can reduce the use of simple imaging in LBP in the ED, unintended consequences have been reported and additional studies employing higher quality methods are strongly recommended.