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The goal of this study was to examine the mental health needs of children and youth who present to the emergency department (ED) for mental health care and to describe the type of, and satisfaction with, follow-up mental health services accessed.
A 6-month to 1.5-year prospective cohort study was conducted in three Canadian pediatric EDs and one general ED, with a 1-month follow-up post-ED discharge. Measures included 1) clinician rating of mental health needs, 2) patient and caregiver self-reports of follow-up services, and 3) interviews regarding follow-up satisfaction. Data analysis included descriptive statistics and the Fisher’s exact test to compare sites.
The cohort consisted of 373 children and youth (61.1% female; mean age 15.1 years, 1.5 standard deviation). The main reason for ED presentations was a mental health crisis. The three most frequent areas of need requiring action were mood (43.8%), suicide risk (37.4%), and parent-child relational problems (34.6%). During the ED visit, 21.6% of patients received medical clearance, 40.9% received a psychiatric consult, and 19.4% were admitted to inpatient psychiatric care. At the 1-month post-ED visit, 84.3% of patients/caregivers received mental health follow-up. Ratings of service recommendations were generally positive, as 60.9% of patients obtained the recommended follow-up care and 13.9% were wait-listed.
Children and youth and their families presenting to the ED with mental health needs had substantial clinical morbidity, were connected with services, were satisfied with their ED visit, and accessed follow-up care within 1-month with some variability.
Intravenous lipid emulsion (ILE) has been used increasingly over the last decade for a range of drug overdoses. Although the use of ILE in local anesthetic toxicity (LAST) is well established, the hemodynamic effectiveness of ILE in non-LAST poisonings is still unclear. Thus, the primary objective of this study was to examine a cohort of poisoned patients in whom ILE was administered.
Consecutive patients were identified by calls to a regional poison center from May 1, 2012 to May 30, 2014. Patients were enrolled if they ingested a drug, developed hemodynamic instability, failed conventional treatment, and received ILE therapy. Data were collected by medical record review. The primary outcome was the change in mean arterial pressure (MAP) in the first hour after ILE administration. Secondary outcomes included survival, length of stay, and the effect of drug class on patient outcome.
Thirty-six patients were enrolled. Agents ingested included calcium channel blockers and beta blockers (10/36, 27.8%), tricyclic antidepressants (5/36, 13.9%), bupropion (3/36, 8.3%), and antiepileptic agents (1/36, 2.8%). Seventeen patients (47.2%) ingested multiple agents. Twenty-five patients survived (69.0%). Overall, MAP increased by 13.79 mm Hg (95% CI 1.43–26.15); this did not meet our a priori definition of clinical significance.
Our study did not find a clinically important improvement in MAP after ILE administration. Until future research is done to more definitively study its efficacy, ILE should remain a potential treatment option for hemodynamically unstable overdose patients only after conventional therapy has failed.
We explored caregiver perspectives on their children’s pain management in both a pediatric (PED) and general emergency department (GED). Study objectives were to: (1) measure caregiver estimates of children’s pain scores and treatment; (2) determine caregiver level of satisfaction; and (3) determine factors associated with caregiver satisfaction.
This prospective survey examined a convenience sample of 97 caregivers (n=51 PED, n=46 GED) with children aged <17 years. A paper-based survey was distributed by research assistants, from 2009–2011.
Most caregivers were female (n=77, 79%) and were the child’s mother (n=69, 71%). Children were treated primarily for musculoskeletal pain (n=41, 42%), headache (n=16, 16%) and abdominal pain (n=7, 7%). Using a 100 mm Visual Analog Scale, the maximum mean reported pain score was 75 mm (95% CI: 70–80) and mean score at discharge was 39 mm (95% CI: 32–46). Ninety percent of caregiver respondents were satisfied (80/89, 90%); three (3/50, 6%) were dissatisfied in the PED and six (6/39, 15%) in the GED. Caregivers who rated their child’s pain at ED discharge as severe were less likely to be satisfied than those who rated their child’s pain as mild or moderate (p=0.034).
Despite continued pain upon discharge, most caregivers report being satisfied with their child’s pain management. Caregiver satisfaction is likely multifactorial, and physicians should be careful not to interpret satisfaction as equivalent to adequate provision of analgesia. The relationship between satisfaction and pain merits further exploration.
Goals for this study were to characterize the substances being used by youth who presented to an emergency department (ED), their demographic descriptors, and to describe the associated acute morbidity and mortality.
We conducted a retrospective review of all youth, ages 10–16 years, who presented to a pediatric ED with complaints related to recreational drug use (n=641) for 2 years ending on December 31, 2009.
The median age of patients was 15 years; 56% were female. Six percent of patients were homeless, and 21% were wards of the state. The most frequent ingestions included ethanol (74%), marijuana (20%), ecstasy (19%), and medications (15%). Over one third of patients had ingested two or more substances. Ninety percent of patients were brought to the ED by the emergency medical services; 63% of these activations were by non-acquaintances. Of the 47% of youth who presented with a decreased level of consciousness, half had a Glasgow Coma Scale less than 13. The Canadian Triage and Acuity Scale score was 1 or 2 for 44% of patients. Sixty-eight percent received IV fluids, 42% received medication, and 4% were intubated. The admission rate was 9%.
Youth who presented to the ED for substance use represented a socially vulnerable population whose use of recreational substances resulted in high medical acuity and significant morbidity. Improved clinical identification of such high-risk youth and subsequent design of interventions to address problematic substance use and social issues are urgently needed to complement the acute medical care that youth receive.
To examine sociodemographic variations among children <18 years in (1) rates of self-harm visits to emergency departments (EDs) and (2) physician follow-up after the self-harm visit in Alberta.
A retrospective, population-based cohort (2002–2011) of ED visits for self-harm by individuals <18 years was conducted using administrative databases from Alberta, Canada. Individuals were grouped by First Nations status or type of health care premium subsidy (family receipt of government subsidy, human services program subsidy, no subsidy received). Visits from 104 EDs were summarized by crude and directly standardized visit rates (DSVRs) per 100,000 individuals. Kaplan-Meier estimates for median estimated time to physician follow-up were calculated with 95% confidence intervals (CIs).
During the study period, visit rates decreased with the exception of children from families receiving government-sponsored program subsidy (DSVRs 163/100,000 to 250/100,000; p=0.032). First Nations children had disproportionately fewer follow-up visits compared to other children. The median time to follow-up for First Nations children was 39 days (95% CI: 32, 48) compared to 16 days for children from families receiving no subsidy (95% CI: 14, 19), who had the shortest follow-up time after an ED visit.
Sociodemographic differences were evident in ED visit rates as well as the number of and time to physician follow-up visit. The disparities experienced by First Nations children in the follow-up period highlight an opportunity for culturally-grounded risk and needs assessment in the ED to determine and facilitate timely and appropriate follow-up care.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a widespread illness with an increasing prevalence in older adults; exacerbations resulting in visits to the emergency department (ED) are common. We sought to determine the epidemiology of COPD presentations to EDs by older adults in Alberta.
Administrative databases were used to examine all ED encounters for COPD from April 1999 to March 2005 in Alberta. Data included demographics of patients and timing of ED visits. Data analysis included descriptive summaries and age–sex directly standardized visit rates (DSVRs).
There were 85 330 ED visits for acute COPD made by 38 638 patients 55 years of age or older during the study period. More men (53.2%) presented, and the mean age at presentation was 72 years. The age–sex DSVRs remained stable from 2000/01 (24.4/1000) to 2004/05 (25.6/1000). Presentation rates differed among population subgroups. Overall, 67% of visits resulted in discharge from the ED.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is a common presentation in Alberta EDs; however, the rates of presentation were stable during the study period, and monthly and hourly trends exhibited similar patterns for each year. Disparities based on age, sex, and socio-economic and cultural statuses were identified. Targeted interventions could be implemented to reduce future ED visits for COPD.
We describe the epidemiology of asthma presentations to emergency departments (EDs) for 3 main regions in the province of Alberta.
We used a comprehensive ED database to identify ED visits in Alberta from April 1999 to March 2005. We linked the visits to other provincial administrative databases to obtain all data on follow-up encounters for asthma during that period. Information extracted included demographics, regions of residence (Edmonton, Calgary or non–major urban [NMU]), timing of ED visits, and subsequent visits to non-ED settings. Data analysis included descriptive summaries and directly standardized visit rates.
During the 6-year study period, 93 146 patients made 199 991 ED visits for asthma. Crude rates in 2004/05 were 7.9/1000, 6.5/1000 and 15.4/1000 in the Edmonton, Calgary and NMU regions, respectively. The Edmonton and Calgary regions had consistently lower visit rates than the NMU regions. The ED visits were followed by low rates of follow-up visits in a variety of non-ED settings, at different intervals.
Asthma is a relatively common presenting problem in Alberta EDs. This study identified relatively stable rates of presentation during the study period, and variation among regions in terms of age and sex. This study provides further understanding of the variation associated with ED presentation and indicates possible targets for specific interventions to reduce asthma-related ED visits.
We sought to determine and compare rates of pediatric mental health presentations and associated costs in emergency departments (EDs) in Alberta.
We examined 16 154 presentations by 12 589 patients (patient age ≤ 17 yr) between April 2002 and March 2006 using the Ambulatory Care Classification System, a province-wide database for Alberta. The following variables of interest were extracted: patient demographics, discharge diagnoses, triage level, disposition, recorded costs for ED care, and institutional classification and location (i.e., rural v. urban, pediatric v. general EDs).
A 15% increase in pediatric mental health presentations was observed during the study period. Youth aged 13-17 years consistently represented the most common age group for first presentation to the ED (83.3%). Of the 16 154 recorded presentations, 21.4% were related to mood disorders and 32.5% to anxiety disorders. Presentations for substance misuse or abuse were the most prevalent reasons for a mental health-related visit (41.3%). Multiple visits accounted for more than one-third of all presentations. Presentations for mood disorders were more common in patients with multiple compared with single visits (29.3% v. 16.9%), and substance abuse or misuse presentations were more common in patients with single compared with multiple visits (47.4% v. 30.5%). The total direct ED costs for mental health presentations during the study period was Can$3.5 million.
This study provides comprehensive data on trends of pediatric mental health presentation, and highlights the costs and return presentations in this population. Psychiatric and medical care provided in the ED for pediatric mental health emergencies should be evaluated to determine quality of care and its relationship with return visits and costs.
Self-inflicted injury is commonly seen in emergency departments (EDs). It may be a precursor to death by suicide. The objective of this study was to examine the epidemiology of self-inflicted injury presentations to EDs in the province of Alberta.
Self-inflicted injury records for the 3 fiscal years 1998/99 to 2000/01 were accessed from the Ambulatory Care Classification System, a database that captures all ED encounters in the province of Alberta. Available data for each case included demographic details, location and time of visit, diagnoses and procedures.
There were 22 396 self-inflicted injury presentations to Alberta EDs during the study period. Self-inflicted injury rates were higher in females, younger patients, those on social services and those with Aboriginal treaty status. There were higher rates of return visits in the year following the self-inflicted injury than in other patient groups. Data showed regional variation. Trends could be seen in the timing of self-inflicted injury presentations by hour of day, day of week, and month of year.
Self-inflicted injury is common, with particularly high rates demonstrated among marginalized populations. This study provides comprehensive data on those who present with self-inflicted injuries, and can be used to guide further treatment, research and evaluation for this population.
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