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Introduction: The number of seniors presenting to emergency departments after a fall is increasing. Head injury concerns in this population often leads to a head CT scan. The CT rate among physicians is variable and the reasons for this are unknown. This study examined the role of patient characteristics and country of practice in the decision to order a CT. Methods: This study used a case-based survey of physicians across multiple countries. Each survey included 9 cases pertaining to an 82-year old man who falls. Each case varied in one aspect compared to a base case (aspirin, warfarin, or rivaroxaban use, occipital hematoma, amnesia, dementia, and fall with no head trauma). For each case, participants indicated how “likely” they were to order a head CT scan, measured on a 100-point scale. A response of 80 or more was defined a priori as ‘likely to order a CT scan’. The survey was piloted among emergency residents for feedback on design and comprehension, and was published in French and English. Recruitment was through the Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians, Twitter and CanadiEM. For each case we compared the proportion of physicians who were ‘likely to scan’ with relative to the base case. We also compared the proportion of participants who were ‘likely to scan’ each case in the USA, UK and Australia, relative to Canada. Results: Data was collected from 484 respondents (Canada-308, USA-64, UK-67, Australia-27, and 18 from other countries). Social media distribution limited our ability to estimate of the response rate. Physicians were most likely to scan in the anticoagulation cases (90% likely to order a scan compared to 36% for the base case (p = <0.001)). Other features associated with increased scans were occipital hematoma (48%), multiple falls (68%), and amnesia (68%) (all p < 0.005). Compared to Canada, US physicians were more likely to order CT scans for all cases (p = <0.05). Compared to Canada, UK physicians were significantly less likely to order CT for patients in every case except in the patient with amnesia. Finally, Australian physicians differed from Canada only for the occipital hematoma case where they were significantly more likely to order CT scan. Conclusion: Anticoagulation, amnesia and a history of multiple falls appear to drive the ordering a head CT scan in elderly patients who had fallen. We observed variations in practice between countries. Future clinical decision rules will likely have variable impact on head CT scan rates depending on baseline practice variation.
Introduction: Although acute gastroenteritis is an extremely common childhood illness, there is a paucity of literature characterizing the associated pain and its management. Our primary objective was to quantify the pain experienced by children with acute gastroenteritis in the 24-hours prior to emergency department (ED) presentation. Secondary objectives included describing maximum pain, analgesic use, discharge recommendations, and factors that influenced analgesic use in the ED. Methods: Study participants were recruited into this prospective cohort study by the Alberta Provincial Pediatric EnTeric Infection TEam between January 2014 and September 2017. This study was conducted at two Canadian pediatric EDs; the Alberta Children's Hospital (Calgary) and the Stollery Children's Hospital (Edmonton). Eligibility criteria included < 18 years of age, acute gastroenteritis (□ 3 episodes of diarrhea or vomiting in the previous 24 hours), and symptom duration □ 7 days. The primary study outcome, caregiver-reported maximum pain in the 24-hours prior to presentation, was assessed using the 11-point Verbal Numerical Rating Scale. Results: We recruited 2136 patients, median age 20.8 months (IQR 10.4, 47.4); 45.8% (979/2136) female. In the 24-hours prior to enrolment, 28.6% (610/2136) of caregivers reported that their child experienced moderate (4-6) and 46.2% (986/2136) severe (7-10) pain in the preceding 24-hours. During the emergency visit, 31.1% (664/2136) described pain as moderate and 26.7% (571/2136) as severe. In the ED, analgesia was provided to 21.2% (452/2131) of children. The most commonly administered analgesics in the ED were ibuprofen (68.1%, 308/452) and acetaminophen (43.4%, 196/452); at home, acetaminophen was most commonly administered (77.7%, 700/901), followed by ibuprofen (37.5%, 338/901). Factors associated with analgesia use in the ED were greater pain scores during the visit, having a primary-care physician, shorter illness duration, fewer diarrheal episodes, presence of fever and hospitalization. Conclusion: Although children presenting to the ED with acute gastroenteritis experience moderate to severe pain, both prior to and during their emergency visit, analgesic use is limited. Future research should focus on appropriate pain management through the development of effective and safe pain treatment plans.