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The goal of disaster triage at both the prehospital and in-hospital level is to maximize resources and optimize patient outcomes. Of the disaster-specific triage methods developed to guide health care providers, the Simple Triage and Rapid Treatment (START) algorithm has become the most popular system world-wide. Despite its appeal and global application, the accuracy and effectiveness of the START protocol is not well-known.
The purpose of this meta-analysis was two-fold: (1) to estimate overall accuracy, under-triage, and over-triage of the START method when used by providers across a variety of backgrounds; and (2) to obtain specific accuracy for each of the four START categories: red, yellow, green, and black.
A systematic review and meta-analysis was conducted that searched Medline (OVID), Embase (OVID), Global Health (OVID), CINAHL (EBSCO), Compendex (Engineering Village), SCOPUS, ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global, Cochrane Library, and PROSPERO. The results were expanded by hand searching of journals, reference lists, and the grey literature. The search was executed in March 2020. The review considered the participants, interventions, context, and outcome (PICO) framework and followed the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines. Accuracy outcomes are presented as means with 95% confidence intervals (CI) as calculated using the binomial method. Pooled meta-analyses of accuracy outcomes using fixed and random effects models were calculated and the heterogeneity was assessed using the Q statistic.
Thirty-two studies were included in the review, most of which utilized a non-randomized study design (84%). Proportion of victims correctly triaged using START ranged from 0.27 to 0.99 with an overall triage accuracy of 0.73 (95% CI, 0.67 to 0.78). Proportion of over-triage was 0.14 (95% CI, 0.11 to 0.17) while the proportion of under-triage was 0.10 (95% CI, 0.072 to 0.14). There was significant heterogeneity of the studies for all outcomes (P < .0001).
This meta-analysis suggests that START is not accurate enough to serve as a reliable disaster triage tool. Although the accuracy of START may be similar to other models of disaster triage, development of a more accurate triage method should be urgently pursued.
We identified quality indicators (QIs) for care during transitions of older persons (≥ 65 years of age). Through systematic literature review, we catalogued QIs related to older persons’ transitions in care among continuing care settings and between continuing care and acute care settings and back. Through two Delphi survey rounds, experts ranked relevance, feasibility, and scientific soundness of QIs. A steering committee reviewed QIs for their feasible capture in Canadian administrative databases. Our search yielded 326 QIs from 53 sources. A final set of 38 feasible indicators to measure in current practice was included. The highest proportions of indicators were for the emergency department (47%) and the Institute of Medicine (IOM) quality domain of effectiveness (39.5%). Most feasible indicators were outcome indicators. Our work highlights a lack of standardized transition QI development in practice, and the limitations of current free-text documentation systems in capturing relevant and consistent data.
Transitions for older persons from long-term care (LTC) to the emergency department (ED) and back, can result in adverse events. Effective communication among care settings is required to ensure continuity of care. We implemented a standardized form for improving consistency of documentation during LTC to ED transitions of residents 65 years of age or older, via emergency medical services (EMS), and back. Data on form use and form completion were collected through chart review. Practitioners’ perspectives were collected using surveys. The form was used in 90/244 (37%) LTC to ED transitions, with large variation in data element completion. EMS and ED reported improved identification of resident information. LTC personnel preferred usual practice to the new form and twice reported prioritizing form completion before calling 911. To minimize risk of harmful unintended consequences, communication forms should be implemented as part of broader quality improvement programs, rather than as stand-alone interventions.
Choosing Wisely Canada (CWC) is a national initiative designed to encourage patient-clinician discussions about the appropriate, evidence-based use of medical tests, procedures and treatments. The Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians’ (CAEP) Choosing Wisely Canada (CWC) working group developed and released ten recommendations relevant to Emergency Medicine in June 2015 (items 1–5) and October 2016 (items 6–10). In November 2016, the CAEP CWC working group developed a process for updating the recommendations. This process involves: 1) Using GRADE to evaluate the quality of evidence, 2) reviewing relevant recommendations on an ad hoc basis as new evidence emerges, and 3) reviewing all recommendations every five years. While the full review of the CWC recommendations will be performed in 2020, a number of high-impact studies were published after our initial launch that prompted an ad hoc review of the relevant three of our ten recommendations prior to the full review in 2020. This paper describes the results of the CAEP CWC working group's ad hoc review of three of our ten recommendations in light of recent publications.
A 19-year-old female, university student with a long-standing history of migraine headaches presented to the emergency department (ED) with a 36-hour history of gradual onset of left-sided headache, preceded by visual aura. She stated that her headache was worse than usual and now associated with nausea, vomiting, and photophobia, despite use of oral ibuprofen. On examination, she was afebrile, her SaO2 = 98% on room air, her pulse was 110 beats/minute, and she was breathing 20 breaths/minute. She received a Canadian Triage and Acuity Scale score of 2 due to her pain score of 8/10 on a Visual Analogue Scale (VAS). Her neurological examination was normal and her neck was supple with full range of motion. She was a non-smoker, infrequent cannabis user, and her last menstrual period was normal.
In the current opioid epidemic, identifying high-risk patients among those with substance and opioid use may prevent deaths. The objective of this study was to determine whether frequent emergency department (ED) use and degree of frequent use are associated with mortality among ED patients with substance and opioid use.
This cohort study used linked population-based ED (National Ambulatory Care Reporting System) and mortality data from Alberta. All adults ≥ 18 years with substance or opioid use-related visits based on diagnostic codes from April 1, 2012, to March 31, 2013, were included (n = 16,389). Frequent use was defined by ≥ 5 visits in the previous year. Outcomes were unadjusted and adjusted (for age, sex, income) mortality within 90 days (primary), and 30 days, 365 days, and 2 years (secondary). To examine degree, frequent use was subcategorized into 5–10, 11–15, 16–20, and > 20 visits.
Frequent users were older, lower income, and made lower acuity visits than non-frequent users. Frequent users with substance use had higher mortality at 365 days (hazard ratio [HR] 1.36 [1.04, 1.77]) and 2 years (HR 1.32 [1.04, 1.67]), but not at 90 or 30 days. Mortality did not differ for frequent users with opioid use overall. By degree, patients with substance use and > 20 visits/year and with opioid use and 16–20 visits/year demonstrated a higher 365-day and 2-year mortality.
Among patients with substance use, frequent ED use and extremely frequent use (> 20 visits/year) were associated with long-term but not short-term mortality. These findings suggest a role for targeted screening and preventive intervention.
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.
Migraine is the most common primary headache disorder seen in the emergency department (ED). Patients with migraine present to the ED for a variety of reasons, including intolerable pain severity, failure of at-home treatment strategies, and debilitating associated symptoms. The diagnosis and management of migraine in the ED can be challenging. In this chapter, the epidemiology of migraine in the ED will be reviewed. A detailed and practical approach to the diagnosis and management of migraine in the ED will be outlined, followed by a discussion of discharge planning issues in this population.
Although procedural sedation for cardioversion is a common event in emergency departments (EDs), there is limited evidence surrounding medication choices. We sought to evaluate geographic and temporal variation in sedative choice at multiple Canadian sites, and to estimate the risk of adverse events due to sedative choice.
This is a secondary analysis of one health records review, the Recent Onset Atrial Fibrillation or Flutter-0 (RAFF-0 [n=420, 2008]) and one prospective cohort study, the Recent Onset Atrial Fibrillation or Flutter-1 (RAFF-1 [n=565, 2010 – 2012]) at eight and six Canadian EDs, respectively. Sedative choices within and among EDs were quantified, and the risk of adverse events was examined with adjusted and unadjusted comparisons of sedative regimes.
In RAFF-0 and RAFF-1, the combination of propofol and fentanyl was most popular (63.8% and 52.7%) followed by propofol alone (27.9% and 37.3%). There were substantially more adverse events in the RAFF-0 data set (13.5%) versus RAFF-1 (3.3%). In both data sets, the combination of propofol/fentanyl was not associated with increased adverse event risk compared to propofol alone.
There is marked variability in procedural sedation medication choice for a direct current cardioversion in Canadian EDs, with increased use of propofol alone as a sedation agent over time. The risk of adverse events from procedural sedation during cardioversion is low but not insignificant. We did not identify an increased risk of adverse events with the addition of fentanyl as an adjunctive analgesic to propofol.
Following release by emergency department (ED) for acute heart failure (AHF), returns to ED represent important adverse health outcomes. The objective of this study was to document relapse events and factors associated with return to ED in the 14-day period following release by ED for patients with AHF.
The primary outcome was the number of return to ED for patients who were release by ED after the initial visit, for any related medical problem within 14 days of this initial ED visit.
Return visits to the EDs occurred in 166 (20%) patients. Of all patients who returned to ED within the 14-day period, 77 (47%) were secondarily admitted to the hospital. The following factors were associated with return visits to ED: past medical history of percutaneous coronary intervention or coronary artery bypass graft (aOR=1.51; 95% CIs [1.01-2.24]), current use of antiarrhythmics medications (1.96 [1.05-3.55]), heart rate above 80 /min (1.89 [1.28-2.80]), systolic blood pressure below 140 mm Hg (1.67[1.14-2.47]), oxygen saturation (SaO2) above 96% (1.58 [1.08-2.31]), troponin above the upper reference limit of normal (1.68 [1.15-2.45]), and chest X-ray with pleural effusion (1.52 [1.04-2.23]).
Many heart failure patients (i.e. 1 in 5 patients) are released from the ED and then suffer return to ED. Patients with multiple medical comorbidities, and those with abnormal initial vital signs are at increased risk for return to ED and should be identified.
Choosing Wisely Canada (CWC) is an initiative to encourage patient-physician discussions about the appropriate, evidence based use of medical tests, procedures and treatments. We present the Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians’ (CAEP) top five list of recommendations, and the process undertaken to generate them.
The CAEP Expert Working Group (EWG) generated a candidate list of 52 tests, procedures, and treatments in emergency medicine whose value to care was questioned. This list was distributed to CAEP committee chairs, revised, and then divided and randomly allocated to 107 Canadian emergency physicians (EWG nominated) who voted on each item based on: action-ability, effectiveness, safety, economic burden, and frequency of use. The EWG discussed the items with the highest votes, and generated the recommendations by consensus.
The top five CAEP CWC recommendations are: 1) Don’t order CT head scans in adults and children who have suffered minor head injuries (unless positive for a validated head injury clinical decision rule); 2) Don’t prescribe antibiotics in adults with bronchitis/asthma and children with bronchiolitis; 3) Don’t order lumbosacral spinal imaging in patients with non-traumatic low back pain who have no red flags/pathologic indicators; 4) Don’t order neck radiographs in patients who have a negative examination using the Canadian C-spine rules; and 5) Don’t prescribe antibiotics after incision and drainage of uncomplicated skin abscesses unless extensive cellulitis exists.
The CWC recommendations for emergency medicine were selected using a mixed methods approach. This top 5 list was released at the CAEP Conference in June 2015 and should form the basis for future implementation efforts.
To describe the incidence and pattern of traumatic spinal cord injury and cauda equina injury (SCI) in a geographically defined region of Canada.
The study period was April 1, 1997 to March 31, 2000. Data were gathered from three provincial sources: administrative data from the Alberta Ministry of Health and Wellness, records from the Alberta Trauma Registry, and death certificates from the Office of the Medical Examiner.
From all three data sources, 450 cases of SCI were identified. Of these, 71 (15.8%) died prior to hospitalization. The annual incidence rate was 52.5/million population (95% CI: 47.7, 57.4). For those who survived to hospital admission, the incidence rate was 44.3/million/year (95% CI: 39.8, 48.7). The incidence rates for males were consistently higher than for females for all age groups. Motor vehicle collisions accounted for 56.4% of injuries, followed by falls (19.1%). The highest incidence of motor vehicle-related SCI occurred to those between 15 and 29 years (60/million/year). Fall-related injuries primarily occurred to those older than 60 years (45/million/year). Rural residents were 2.5 times as likely to be injured as urban residents.
Prevention strategies for SCI should target males of all ages, adolescents and young adults of both sexes, rural residents, motor vehicle collisions, and fall prevention for those older than 60 years.
This retrospective cohort study compared rates of emergency department (ED) visits after a diagnosis of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in the three Aboriginal groups (Registered First Nations, Métis and Inuit) relative to a non-Aboriginal cohort.
We linked eight years of administrative health data from Alberta and calculated age- and sex-standardized ED visit rates in cohorts of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal individuals diagnosed with COPD. Rate ratios (RR) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were calculated in a Poisson regression model that adjusted for important sociodemographic factors and comorbidities. Differences in ED length of stay (LOS) and disposition status were also evaluated.
A total of 2,274 Aboriginal people and 1,611 non-Aboriginals were newly diagnosed with COPD during the study period. After adjusting for important sociodemographic and clinical factors, the rate of all-cause ED visits in all Aboriginal people (RR=1.72, 95% CI: 1.67, 1.77), particularly among Registered First Nations people (RR=2.02; 95% CI: 1.97, 2.08) and Inuit (RR=1.28; 95% CI: 1.22, 1.35), were significantly higher than that in non-Aboriginals, while ED visit rates were significantly lower in the Métis (RR=0.94; 95% CI: 0.90, 0.98). The ED LOS in all Aboriginal groups were significantly lower than that of the non-Aboriginal group.
Aboriginal people with COPD use almost twice the amount of ED services compared to their non-Aboriginal counterparts. There are also important variations in patterns of ED services use among different Aboriginal groups with COPD in Alberta.
We conducted a program of research to derive and test the reliability of a clinical prediction rule to identify high-risk older adults using paramedics’ observations.
We developed the Paramedics assessing Elders at Risk of Independence Loss (PERIL) checklist of 43 yes or no questions, including the Identifying Seniors at Risk (ISAR) tool items. We trained 1,185 paramedics from three Ontario services to use this checklist, and assessed inter-observer reliability in a convenience sample. The primary outcome, return to the ED, hospitalization, or death within one month was assessed using provincial databases. We derived a prediction rule using multivariable logistic regression.
We enrolled 1,065 subjects, of which 764 (71.7%) had complete data. Inter-observer reliability was good or excellent for 40/43 questions. We derived a four-item rule: 1) “Problems in the home contributing to adverse outcomes?” (OR 1.43); 2) “Called 911 in the last 30 days?” (OR 1.72); 3) male (OR 1.38) and 4) lacks social support (OR 1.4). The PERIL rule performed better than a proxy measure of clinical judgment (AUC 0.62 vs. 0.56, p=0.02) and adherence was better for PERIL than for ISAR.
The four-item PERIL rule has good inter-observer reliability and adherence, and had advantages compared to a proxy measure of clinical judgment. The ISAR is an acceptable alternative, but adherence may be lower. If future research validates the PERIL rule, it could be used by emergency physicians and paramedic services to target preventative interventions for seniors identified as high-risk.
We sought to gather a comprehensive list of funding strategies and opportunities for emergency medicine (EM) centres across Canada, and make recommendations on how to successfully fund all levels of research activity, including research projects, staff salaries, infrastructure, and researcher stipends.
We formed an expert panel consisting of volunteers recognized nationally for their scholarly work in EM. First, we conducted interviews with academic leaders and researchers to obtain a description of their local funding strategies using a standardized open-ended questionnaire. Panelists then identified emerging funding models. Second, we listed funding opportunities and initiatives at the provincial, national, and international levels. Finally, we used an iterative consensus-based approach to derive pragmatic recommendations after incorporating comments and suggestions from participants at an academic symposium.
Our review of funding strategies identified four funding models: 1) investigator dependent model, 2) practice plan, 3) generous benefactor, and 4) mixed funding. Recommendations in this document include approaches for research contributors and producers (seven recommendations), for local academic leaders (five recommendations), and for national organizations, such as the Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians (CAEP) (three recommendations).
Funding for research in EM varies across Canada and is largely insecure. We offer recommendations to help facilitate funding for large and small projects, for salary support, and for local and national leaders to advance EM research. We believe that these recommendations will increase funding for all levels of EM research activity, including research projects, staff salaries, infrastructure, and researcher stipends.