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Observational studies have linked elevated homocysteine to vascular conditions. Folate intake has been associated with lower homocysteine concentration, although randomised controlled trials of folic acid supplementation to decrease the incidence of vascular conditions have been inconclusive. We investigated determinants of maternal homocysteine during pregnancy, particularly in a folic acid-fortified population.
Data were from the Ottawa and Kingston Birth Cohort of 8085 participants. We used multivariable regression analyses to identify factors associated with maternal homocysteine, adjusted for gestational age at bloodwork. Continuous factors were modelled using restricted cubic splines. A subgroup analysis examined the modifying effect of MTHFR 677C>T genotype on folate, in determining homocysteine concentration.
Participants were recruited in Ottawa and Kingston, Canada, from 2002 to 2009.
Women were recruited when presenting for prenatal care in the early second trimester.
In 7587 participants, factors significantly associated with higher homocysteine concentration were nulliparous, smoking and chronic hypertension, while factors significantly associated with lower homocysteine concentration were non-Caucasian race, history of a placenta-mediated complication and folic acid supplementation. Maternal age and BMI demonstrated U-shaped associations. Folic acid supplementation of >1 mg/d during pregnancy did not substantially increase folate concentration. In the subgroup analysis, MTHFR 677C>T modified the effect of folate status on homocysteine concentration.
We identified determinants of maternal homocysteine relevant to the lowering of homocysteine in the post-folic acid fortification era, characterised by folate-replete populations. A focus on periconceptional folic acid supplementation and improving health status may form an effective approach to lower homocysteine.
Acute heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are sometimes difficult to differentiate in the emergency department (ED). We sought to determine the clinical impact of point-of-care ultrasonography (POCUS) in ED patients with suspected acute heart failure or COPD.
We conducted a prospectively collected cohort study with health records review with frequency matching at The Ottawa Hospital between March and September 2017. We included patients aged 50 and older with shortness of breath or cough from suspected acute heart failure or COPD. Our primary outcome was ED length of stay. Secondary outcomes were time to disposition decision, time to appropriate treatment, and the incidence of adverse events. We analyzed time-to-event outcomes using Kaplan-Meier analysis and Cox regression analysis with POCUS analyzed as a time-dependent variable, and the incidence of adverse events using logistic regression analyses.
There were 81 patients evaluated with lung POCUS and 243 matched patients who were not. Lung POCUS was not significantly associated with ED length of stay and time to disposition decision; however, patients evaluated with lung POCUS received disease-specific treatment faster compared with the non-POCUS group (adjusted hazard ratio, 1.50 [95% confidence interval, 1.05–2.15], a median time difference of 31 minutes). We found no significant differences in the incidence of adverse events.
In this study, use of lung POCUS resulted in no difference in ED length of stay and time to disposition decision, but was associated with faster administration of disease-specific treatments for elderly patients with suspected acute heart failure or COPD.
Syncope accounts for 1% of emergency department (ED) visits, yet few experience a serious adverse event (SAE). Two-thirds of syncope patients are transported to the ED by ambulance, placing considerable burden on emergency medical services (EMS), and many of these transports may be unnecessary. We estimated the proportion of syncope patients who fell into a low-risk category based on an ED diagnosis of vasovagal syncope and the absence of EMS intervention, hospitalization, or SAE.
We conducted a multicentre prospective cohort study enrolling adult syncope patients transported to the ED by ambulance over 13 months. We collected demographics and EMS interventions, and followed patients for 30 days to identify all SAE, including death, dysrhythmia, myocardial infarction, aortic dissection, pulmonary embolism, subarachnoid hemorrhage, significant hemorrhage, and related procedural interventions.
Of 990 (67.2%) patients transported to the ED by ambulance, 121 had EMS interventions, 137 suffered 30-day SAE, 393 (39.7%; 95%CI 36.6, 42.8) were deemed low risk, 41 patients with vasovagal syncope were lost to follow-up, and 298 patients were diagnosed with non-vasovagal syncope. During transport, 121 (12.2%; 95%CI 10.2, 14.3) patients underwent some EMS intervention, and 137 (14.6%; 95%CI 12.4, 16.9) suffered SAEs within 30 days.
About 40% of patients transported to the ED by ambulance are at low risk and may not benefit from paramedic care or transport to a hospital. A robust clinical decision tool would help identify patients safe for treat-and-release, diversion to alternative care, or rapid offload into low-acuity ED areas, potentially reducing EMS workload and cost.
The objective of this panel was to generate recommendations to promote the engagement of front-line emergency department (ED) clinicians in clinical and implementation research.
Panel members conducted semi-structured interviews with 37 Canadian adult and pediatric emergency medicine researchers to elicit barriers and facilitators to clinician engagement in research activities, and to glean strategies for promoting clinician engagement.
Responses were organized by themes, and, based on these responses, recommendations were developed and refined in an iterative fashion by panel members.
We offer eight recommendations to promote front-line clinician engagement in clinical research activities. Recommendations to promote clinician engagement specifically address the creation of a research-friendly culture in the ED, minimizing the burden of data collection on clinical staff through the careful design of data collection tools and the use of research staff, and communication between researchers and clinical staff to promote adherence to study protocols.
The objective of Panel 2b was to present an overview of and recommendations for the conduct of implementation trials and multicentre studies in emergency medicine.
Panel members engaged methodologists to discuss the design and conduct of implementation and multicentre studies. We also conducted semi-structured interviews with 37 Canadian adult and pediatric emergency medicine researchers to elicit barriers and facilitators to conducting these kinds of studies.
Responses were organized by themes, and, based on these responses, recommendations were developed and refined in an iterative fashion by panel members.
We offer eight recommendations to facilitate multicentre clinical and implementation studies, along with guidance for conducting implementation research in the emergency department. Recommendations for multicentre studies reflect the importance of local study investigators and champions, requirements for research infrastructure and staffing, and the cooperation and communication between the coordinating centre and participating sites.
Physician variation in the use of computed tomography (CT) is concerning due to the risks of ionizing radiation, cost, and downstream effects of unnecessary testing. The objectives of this study were to describe variation in CT-ordering rates among emergency physicians (EPs), to measure correlation between perceived and actual CT-ordering rates, to assess attitudes that influence decisions to order imaging tests, and to identify EP attitudes associated with higher CT utilization.
This study was a retrospective review of imaging and administrative billing records at two emergency department sites of a tertiary care adult teaching hospital. The study also included a cross-sectional survey of EPs at this hospital. We asked physicians about their perceived ordering behaviour, and what factors influenced their decision to order a CT. We examined correlations between perceived and actual CT-ordering rates. We adjusted ordering rates for shift distribution using a logistic regression model and identified outlier physicians whose ordering rate was significantly lower or higher than expected. We used multivariable regression analysis to determine which survey responses predicted higher CT utilization.
During the study period, 59 EPs saw 45,854 patients, and ordered 6,609 CTs — a mean ordering rate of 14.4% (standard deviation (SD)=4.3%). The ordering rate for individual physicians ranged from 5.9% to 25.9%. Of the 59 EPs, 13 EPs were low-ordering outliers; 12 were high-ordering outliers. Forty-five EPs (76.3%) completed the survey. Mean perceived ordering rate was 12.6%, and was weakly correlated with actual ordering (r=0.19, p=0.21). 42 EPs (93.3%) believed they ordered “about the same” or “fewer” CTs than their peers. Of the 17 EPs in the two highest ordering quintiles, only 3 (18%) knew they were high orderers. In the multivariable analysis, higher ordering was associated with increasing strength of response to the following predictors: medico-legal risk (relative risk [RR]=1.18, 95% CI: 1.03–1.21), risk of contrast (RR=1.14, 95% CI: 1.07–1.22), what colleagues would do (RR=1.09, 95% CI: 0.99–1.19), risk of missing a diagnosis (RR=1.08, 95% CI: 0.98–1.21), and patient wishes (RR=1.07, 95% CI: 0.97–1.17).
There is large variation in CT ordering among EPs. Physicians’ self-reported ordering rate correlates poorly with actual ordering. High CT orderers were rarely aware that they ordered more than their colleagues. Higher rates of ordering were observed among physicians who reported increased concern with 1) risk of missing a diagnosis, 2) medico-legal risk, 3) risk of contrast, 4) patient wishes, and 5) what colleagues would do.
Frostbite is a common yet challenging injury to both diagnose and treat. McCauley’s frostbite treatment protocol consists of 12 treatments that might well represent the standard of care. However, its effectiveness in preventing operative intervention has yet to be examined. Our objectives were to characterize frostbite injuries in Eastern Ontario, identify risk factors for deep injuries, and assess the protocol’s efficacy in preventing operative outcomes.
This cohort study examined patients with frostbite over ten years at a tertiary care hospital. Demographics and predisposing factors were recorded. Frostbite severity was categorized into superficial or deep. Treatments were recorded, including adherence to protocol and operative outcome.
Of the 265 frostbite patients identified, deep frostbite accounted for 56 (21.1%, 95% CI: 16.2–26.1%), of whom 20 (35.7%) had an operative outcome. Amputation occurred in 16 (28.6%) of deep injuries and debridement in 5 (8.9%). Risk factors for deep frostbite were older age (p =0.002), smoking (p <0.001), male sex (p =0.056) and alcohol abuse (p =0.056). None of the patients with deep frostbite had all 12 treatments performed. Adherence to protocol ranged from 0.0% to 48.2% per treatment. The rate of operative intervention was 7.7% in patients with deep frostbite who did not have any McCauley’s frostbite treatments and ranged from 0.0% to 100.0% per treatment in those who did receive treatments.
The frostbite protocol was not regularly followed and therefore its efficacy in preventing operative intervention could not be determined. Further, none of the individual treatments in the protocol were associated with preventing operative intervention. We recommend that future research focus on identifying effective individual treatments.
This study sought to measure bystander fatigue and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) quality after five minutes of CPR using the continuous chest compression (CCC) versus the 30:2 chest compression to ventilation method in older lay persons, a population most likely to perform CPR on cardiac arrest victims.
This randomized crossover trial took place at three tertiary care hospitals and a seniors’ center. Participants were aged ≥55 years without significant physical limitations (frailty score ≤3/7). They completed two 5-minute CPR sessions (using 30:2 and CCC) on manikins; sessions were separated by a rest period. We used concealed block randomization to determine CPR method order. Metronome feedback maintained a compression rate of 100/minute. We measured heart rate (HR), mean arterial pressure (MAP), and Borg Exertion Scale. CPR quality measures included total number of compressions and number of adequate compressions (depth ≥5 cm).
Sixty-three participants were enrolled: mean age 70.8 years, female 66.7%, past CPR training 60.3%. Bystander fatigue was similar between CPR methods: mean difference in HR -0.59 (95% CI −3.51-2.33), MAP 1.64 (95% CI −0.23-3.50), and Borg 0.46 (95% CI 0.07-0.84). Compared to 30:2, participants using CCC performed more chest compressions (480.0 v. 376.3, mean difference 107.7; p<0.0001) and more adequate chest compressions (381.5 v. 324.9, mean difference. 62.0; p=0.0001), although good compressions/minute declined significantly faster with the CCC method (p=0.0002).
CPR quality decreased significantly faster when performing CCC compared to 30:2. However, performing CCC produced more adequate compressions overall with a similar level of fatigue compared to the 30:2 method.
In 2008–2009, the Canadian Institute for Health Information reported over 30,000 cases of sepsis hospitalizations in Canada, an increase of almost 4,000 from 2005. Mortality rates from severe sepsis and septic shock continue to remain greater than 30% in Canada and are significantly higher than other critical conditions treated in the emergency department (ED). Our group formed a multidisciplinary sepsis committee, conducted an ED process of care analysis, and developed a quality improvement protocol. The objective of this study was to evaluate the effects of this sepsis management bundle on patient mortality.
This before and after study was conducted in two large Canadian tertiary care EDs and included adult patients with suspected severe infection that met at least two systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS) criteria. We studied the implementation of a sepsis bundle including triage flagging, RN medical directive, education campaign, and a modified sepsis protocol. The primary outcomes were 30-day all-cause mortality and sepsis protocol use.
We included a total of 167 and 185 patients in the pre- and post-intervention analysis, respectively. Compared to the pre-intervention group, mortality was significantly lower in the post-intervention group (30.7% versus 17.3%; absolute difference, 13.4%; 95% CI 9.8–17.0; p=0.006). There was also a higher rate of sepsis protocol use in the post-intervention group (20.3% versus 80.5%, absolute difference 60.2%; 95% CI 55.1–65.3; p<0.001). Additionally, we found shorter time-intervals from triage to MD assessment, fluid resuscitation, and antibiotic administration as well as lower rates of vasopressor requirements and ICU admission.
The implementation of our multidisciplinary ED sepsis bundle, including improved early identification and protocolized medical care, was associated with improved time to achieve key therapeutic interventions and a reduction in 30-day mortality. Similar low-cost initiatives could be implemented in other EDs to potentially improve outcomes for this high-risk group of patients.
Bronchiolitis is the leading cause of hospital admission for infants, but few studies have examined management of this condition in community hospital settings. We reviewed the management of children with bronchiolitis presenting to community hospitals in Ontario.
We retrospectively reviewed a consecutive cohort of infants less than 12 months old with bronchiolitis who presented to 28 Ontario community hospitals over a two-year period. Bronchiolitis was defined as first episode of wheezing associated with signs of an upper respiratory tract infection during respiratory syncytial virus season.
Of 543 eligible children, 161 (29.7%, 95% Confidence Interval (CI) 22.3 to 37.0%) were admitted to hospital. Hospital admission rates varied widely (Interquartile Range 0%-40.3%). Bronchodilator use was widespread in the emergency department (ED) (79.7% of patients, 95% CI 75.0 to 84.5%) and on the inpatient wards (94.4% of patients, 95% CI 90.2 to 98.6%). Salbutamol was the most commonly used bronchodilator. At ED discharge 44.7% (95% CI 37.5 to 51.9%) of patients were prescribed a bronchodilator medication. Approximately one-third of ED patients (30.8%, 95% CI 22.7 to 38.8%), 50.3% (95% CI 37.7 to 63.0%) of inpatients, and 23.5% (95% CI 14.4 to 32.7) of patients discharged from the ED were treated with corticosteroids. The most common investigation obtained was a chest x-ray (60.2% of all children; 95% CI 51.9 to 68.5%).
Infants with bronchiolitis receive medications and investigations for which there is little evidence of benefit. This suggests a need for knowledge translation strategies directed to community hospitals.
There are a number of screening tools to predict return to the emergency department (ED) in elderly trauma patients, but none exist to specifically screen for functional decline after a minor injury. The objective of this study was to identify outcome measures for a possible future clinical decision rule to be used in the ED to identify previously independent patients at high risk of functional decline at six months post minor injury.
After a rigorous development process, a survey instrument was administered to a random sample of 178 emergency physicians using the Dillman’s Tailored Design Method.
Of 156 eligible surveys, we received 81 completed surveys (response rate 51.9%). Considering all 14 activities of daily living (ADL) items, 90% of physicians deemed a minimal clinically important difference (MCID) in function to be at least three points on the 28-point Older Americans Resources and Services (OARS) ADL Scale as clinically significant. A tool with a sensitivity of 93% to detect patients at risk of functional decline at six months post injury would meet or exceed the sensitivity deemed to be required by 90% of physicians. The majority of emergency physicians do not assess elderly injured patients for the majority of the tasks.
A drop of three points on the 28-point OARS ADL Scale would be deemed clinically important by the vast majority of emergency physicians. Further, a sensitivity of 93% for a clinical decision tool would satisfy the MCID requirements of the vast majority of emergency physicians. There appears to be a gap between physician knowledge and actual practice. We intend to use these findings in the development of a clinical decision rule to identify high-risk elderly trauma patients.
Previously all subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) patients were admitted, whereas now patients with angiography may be discharged.
To survey neurosurgeons to determine current practice and what constitutes a clinically significant subarachnoid hemorrhage.
We surveyed all neurosurgeons listed in the Canadian Medical Directory. We used a modified Dillman technique with up to five mailed surveys plus a pre-notification letter. Neurosurgeons rated the significance of 13 scenarios of subarachnoid hemorrhage. Scenarios varied from aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage to patients with isolated xanthochromia in cerebrospinal fluid. Each scenario was rated for clinical significance using a 5-point scale [1(always) to 5(never)].
Of the 224 surveyed, 115 neurosurgeons responded. Scenarios with aneurysms requiring intervention, arteriovenous malformations, death or any surgical intervention all had median responses of 1 (IQR 1, 1). Scenarios having xanthochromia and few red blood cells in cerebrospinal fluid with negative computerized tomogram (CT) and angiography had median responses of 3 (IQR 1, 4). Scenarios with perimesencephalic pattern on CT with negative angiography had median of 3 (IQR 2, 4). Scenarios where patient is discharged from the emergency department had median of 4 (IQR 3, 5).
Subarachnoid hemorrhages due to aneurysms or arteriovenous malformations causing death or requiring surgical intervention are always clinically significant. Other types of nonaneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhages had inconsistent ratings for clinical significance. These survey results highlight the need for further discussions to standardize the diagnosis of what constitutes a clinically significant subarachnoid hemorrhage and what care should be afforded to these patients.
There are currently no widely used guidelines to determine which older patients with acute respiratory conditions require hospital admission. This study assessed the need for clinical decision rules to help determine whether hospital admission is required for patients over 50 years for three common respiratory conditions: chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), heart failure (HF), and community-acquired pneumonia (CAP).
Emergency physicians (EPs) from the United States, Canada, and Australasia.
A random sample of EPs from the United States, Canada, and Australasia.
A modified Dillman technique with a prenotification letter and up to three postal surveys.
EP opinions regarding the need for and willingness to use clinical decision rules for emergency department (ED) patients over 50 years with COPD, HF, or CAP to predict hospital admission. We assessed the required sensitivity of each rule for return ED visit or death within 14 days.
A total of 801 responses from 1,493 surveys were received, with response rates of 55%, 60%, and 46% for Australasia, Canada, and the United States, respectively. Over 90% of EPs reported that they would consider using clinical decision rules for HF, CAP, and COPD. The median required sensitivity for death within 14 days was 97 to 98% for all conditions.
EPs are likely to adopt highly sensitive clinical decision rules to predict the need for hospital admission for patients over 50 years with COPD, HF, or CAP.
Four to 10% of patients with transient ischemic attack (TIA) suffer a stroke or die within 7 days. Our objectives were to determine (1) current practice for investigating and treating emergency department (ED) patients with TIA, (2) willingness to use a clinical decision rule to identify patients at high risk of impending stroke or death, and (3) the required sensitivity of this rule.
We administered a mail survey to a random sample of members of three national emergency physician associations in Australia, Canada, and the United States using a modified Dillman technique. A prenotification letter and up to three surveys were sent.
A total of 801 responses (53.7%) from 1,493 surveys were received; 53.6% (95% CI 47.5–59.7) of emergency physicians reported routinely admitting TIA patients, ranging from 6.6% in Canada to 56.7% in the United States, and 9.9% of emergency physicians have a stroke prevention clinic, with 4.7% estimating that patients are seen within 7 days. A sensitive clinical decision rule for TIA patients would be used by 96.3% (95% CI 93.9–98.7) of emergency physicians. The median required sensitivity of this rule for stroke or death within 7 days was 97%.
Almost half of all TIA patients are managed as outpatients,which is neither expedited nor in a dedicated stroke clinic. Emergency physicians indicate a willingness to use a highly sensitive clinical decision rule to triage TIA patients.
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