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Numerous studies reported on the frequency of, and factors associated with inappropriate or unnecessary emergency department (ED) visits using clinician judgment as the gold standard of appropriateness. This study evaluated the reliability of clinician judgment for assessing appropriateness of pediatric ED visit.
We conducted a retrospective cohort study comparing 3 clinicians’ determination of ED visit appropriateness with and without guidance from a three-question structured algorithm. We used a cohort of scheduled ED return visits deemed appropriate by the index treating clinician between May 1, 2012, and April 30, 2013. We measured the level of agreement among three clinician investigators with and without use of the structured algorithm.
A total of 207 scheduled ED return visits were reviewed by the primary clinician reviewer who agreed with the index treating clinician for 79/207 visits (38.2%). Among a random subset of 90 return visits reviewed by all three clinicians, agreement was 67% with a Fleiss’ Kappa of 0.30 (0.17–0.44). Using a three-question algorithm based on objective criteria, agreement with the index treating provider increased to 115/207 (55.6%).
Although an important contributor to pediatric ED overcrowding, unnecessary or inappropriate visits are difficult to identify. We demonstrated poor reliability of clinician judgment to determine appropriateness of ED return visits, likely due to variability in clinical decision-making and risk-tolerance, social and systems factors impacting access and use of health care. We recommend that future studies evaluating the appropriateness of ED use standardized, objective criteria rather than clinician judgment alone.
To determine the incidence, risk, and timing of mortality (unnatural and natural causes) among youth seen in a pediatric emergency department (ED) for mental health concerns, compared with matched non–mental health ED controls.
This was a retrospective cohort study conducted at a quaternary pediatric ED in British Columbia. All visits for a mental health related condition between July 1st, 2005, and June 30th, 2015, were matched on age, sex, triage acuity, socioeconomic status, and year of visit to a non–mental health control visit. Mortality outcomes were obtained from vital statistics data through December 31st, 2016 (cumulative follow-up 74,390 person-years).
Among all cases in our study, including 6,210 youth seen for mental health concerns and 6,210 matched controls, a total of 13 died of suicide (7.5/100,000 person-years) and 33 died of suicide or indeterminate causes (44/100,000 person-years). All-cause mortality was significantly lower among mental health presentations (121.3/100,000 v. 214.5/100,000 person-years; hazard ratio [HR], 0.54; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.37–0.78). The median time from initial emergency visit to suicide was 5.2 years (interquartile range, 4.2–7.3). Among mental health related visits, risk of death by suicide or indeterminate cause was three-fold that of matched controls (HR, 3.05 95%CI, 1.37–6.77).
While youth seeking emergency mental health care are at increased risk of death by unnatural causes, their overall mortality risk is lower than non–mental health controls. The protracted duration from initial presentation to suicide highlights the need for long-term surveillance and preventative care for youth seen in the ED for all mental health concerns.
Our objectives were to describe disposition decisions and emergency department return (EDR) rates following a clinical decision unit (CDU) stay; and to determine changes to short stay (<48 hour) hospitalization rates after CDU implementation.
We conducted a retrospective cohort study of pediatric emergency department (PED) visits with a CDU stay from January 1 to December 31, 2015. Health records data were extracted onto standardized online forms, then used to determine disposition and 7-day EDR rates. Two trained investigators blindly reviewed EDR visits to determine if they were related to the index CDU stay. We compared short stay inpatient admission rates (i.e., hospital length of stay <48 hours) in 2013 and 2015, before and after CDU implementation.
Of 1696 index CDU stays, 1503 (89%) were discharged, and 139 discharged patients (9.2%) had ≥1 clinically-related EDR. Median (IQR) CDU length of stay (LOS) was 4.4 hours (2.7-7.8) and total PED LOS (including CDU) was 7.8 hours (5.4-12.0). Asthma represented 31% of cases. Short stay hospitalization rate decreased from 3.62% in 2013 to 3.23% in 2015 (difference=0.39%; 95% CI=0.15-0.63; p=0.001).
Most CDU patients were discharged, but 9% had a clinically-related ED revisit. CDU implementation was associated with a small but significant reduction in short stay hospitalization.
To evaluate the psychometric properties of HEARTSMAP, an emergency psychosocial assessment and management tool, and its impact on patient care and flow measures.
We conducted the study in two phases: first validating the tool using extracted information from a retrospective cohort, then evaluating implementation on a prospective cohort of youth presenting with mental health complaints to a tertiary Pediatric Emergency Department (PED). In phase 1, six PED clinicians applied HEARTSMAP to extracted narratives and we calculated inter-rater agreement for referral recommendations using Cohen’s Kappa and the sensitivity and specificity for identifying youth requiring psychiatric consultation and hospitalization. In phase 2, PED clinicians prospectively used HEARTSMAP and we assessed the impact of the tool’s implementation on patient-related outcomes and Emergency department (ED) flow measures.
We found substantial agreement (κ=0.7) for cases requiring emergent psychiatric consultation and moderate agreement for cases requiring community urgent and non-urgent follow-up (κ=0.4 each). The sensitivity was 76% (95%CI: 63%, 90%) and specificity was 65% (95%CI: 55%, 71%) using retrospective cases. During pilot implementation, 62 patients received HEARTSMAP assessments: 46 (74%) of HEARTSMAP assessments triggered a recommendation for ED psychiatry assessment, 39 (63%) were evaluated by psychiatry and 13 (21%) were admitted. At follow-up, all patients with HEARTSMAP’s triggered recommendations had accessed community resources. For those hospitalized for further psychiatric care at their index or return visit within 30 days, 100% were initially identified by HEARTSMAP at the index visit as requiring ED psychiatric consultation.
HEARTSMAP has strong reliability, and when applied prospectively is a safe and effective management tool.
To complement our environmental scan of academic emergency medicine departments, we conducted a similar environmental scan of the academic pediatric emergency medicine programs offered by the Canadian medical schools.
We developed an 88-question form, which was distributed to pediatric academic leaders at each medical school. The responses were validated via email to ensure that the questions were answered completely and consistently.
Fourteen of the 17 Canadian medical schools have some type of pediatric emergency medicine academic program. None of the pediatric emergency medicine units have full departmental status, while nine are divisions, two are sections, and three have no status. Canadian academic pediatric emergency medicine is practised at 13 major teaching hospitals and one specialized pediatric emergency department. There are 394 pediatric emergency medicine faculty members, including 13 full professors and 64 associate professors. Eight sites regularly take pediatric undergraduate clinical clerks, and all 14 provide resident education. Fellowship training is offered at 10 sites, with five offering advanced pediatric emergency medicine fellowship training. Half of the sites have at least one physician with a Master’s degree in education, totalling 18 faculty members across Canada. There are 31 clinical researchers with salary support at nine universities. Eleven sites have published peer-reviewed papers (n=423) in the past five years, ranging from two to 102 per site. Annual academic budgets range from $10,000 to $2,607,515.
This comprehensive review of academic activities in pediatric emergency medicine across Canada identifies the variability across the country, including the recognition of sites above and below the national average, which may prompt change at individual sites. Sharing these academic practices may inspire sites to provide more support to teachers, educators, and researchers.
Return visits to the emergency department (RTED) for the same clinical complaint occur in 2.7% to 8.1% of children presenting to pediatric emergency departments (PEDs). Most studies examining RTEDs have focused solely on PEDs and do not capture children returning to other local emergency departments (EDs). Our objective was to measure the frequency and characterize the directional pattern of RTED to any of 18 EDs serving a large geographic area for children initially evaluated at a PED.
We conducted a retrospective cohort study of all visits to a referral centre PED between August 2012 and August 2013. We compared demographic variables between children with and without an RTED, measures of flow and disposition outcomes between the initial (index) visit and RTED, and between RTED to the original PED versus to other EDs in the community.
Among all PED visits, 7.6% had an RTED within 7 days, of which 13% were to a facility other than the original PED. Children with an RTED had higher acuity and longer length of stay on their index visit. They were also more likely to be admitted on a subsequent visit than the overall PED population. RTED to the original PED had a longer waiting time (WT), length of stay, and more frequently resulted in hospitalization than RTED to a general ED.
A significant proportion of RTED occur at a site other than where the original ED visit occurred. Examining RTED to and from only PEDs underestimates its burden on emergency health services.
We sought to conduct a major objective of the CAEP Academic Section, an environmental scan of the academic emergency medicine programs across the 17 Canadian medical schools.
We developed an 84-question questionnaire, which was distributed to academic heads. The responses were validated by phone by the lead author to ensure that the questions were answered completely and consistently. Details of pediatric emergency medicine units were excluded from the scan.
At eight of 17 universities, emergency medicine has full departmental status and at two it has no official academic status. Canadian academic emergency medicine is practiced at 46 major teaching hospitals and 13 specialized pediatric hospitals. Another 69 Canadian hospital EDs regularly take clinical clerks and emergency medicine residents. There are 31 full professors of emergency medicine in Canada. Teaching programs are strong with clerkships offered at 16/17 universities, CCFP(EM) programs at 17/17, and RCPSC residency programs at 14/17. Fourteen sites have at least one physician with a Master’s degree in education. There are 55 clinical researchers with salary support at 13 universities. Sixteen sites have published peer-reviewed papers in the past five years, ranging from four to 235 per site. Annual budgets range from $200,000 to $5,900,000.
This comprehensive review of academic activities in emergency medicine across Canada identifies areas of strengths as well as opportunities for improvement. CAEP and the Academic Section hope we can ultimately improve ED patient care by sharing best academic practices and becoming better teachers, educators, and researchers.
It is unclear which pediatric disaster triage (PDT) strategy yields the best accuracy or best patient outcomes.
We conducted a cross-sectional analysis on a sample of emergency medical services providers from a prospective cohort study comparing the accuracy and triage outcomes for 2 PDT strategies (Smart and JumpSTART) and clinical decision-making (CDM) with no algorithm. Participants were divided into cohorts by triage strategy. We presented 10-victim, multi-modal disaster simulations. A Delphi method determined patients’ expected triage levels. We compared triage accuracy overall and for each triage level (RED/Immediate, YELLOW/Delayed, GREEN/Ambulatory, BLACK/Deceased).
There were 273 participants (71 JumpSTART, 122 Smart, and 81 CDM). There was no significant difference between Smart triage and CDM. When JumpSTART triage was used, there was greater accuracy than with either Smart (P<0.001; OR [odds ratio]: 2.03; interquartile range [IQR]: 1.30, 3.17) or CDM (P=0.02; OR: 1.76; IQR: 1.10, 2.82). JumpSTART outperformed Smart for RED patients (P=0.05; OR: 1.48; IQR: 1.01,2.17), and outperformed both Smart (P<0.001; OR: 3.22; IQR: 1.78,5.88) and CDM (P<0.001; OR: 2.86; IQR: 1.53,5.26) for YELLOW patients. Furthermore, JumpSTART outperformed CDM for BLACK patients (P=0.01; OR: 5.55; IQR: 1.47, 20.0).
Our simulation-based comparison suggested that JumpSTART triage outperforms both Smart and CDM. JumpSTART outperformed Smart for RED patients and CDM for BLACK patients. For YELLOW patients, JumpSTART yielded more accurate triage results than did Smart triage or CDM. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2016;10:253–260)
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