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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.
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.
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.
To characterize the current state of Canadian emergency medicine (EM) resident research and develop recommendations to promote excellence in this area.
We performed a systematic review of MEDLINE, Embase, and ERIC using search terms relevant to EM resident research. We conducted an online survey of EM residency program directors from the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC) and College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC). An expert panel reviewed these data, presented recommendations at the Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians 2014 Academic Symposium, and refined them based on feedback received.
Of 654 potentially relevant citations, 35 articles were included. These were categorized into four themes: 1) expectations and requirements, 2) training and assessment, 3) infrastructure and support, and 4) dissemination. We received 31 responses from all 31 RCPSC-EM and CFPC-EM programs. The majority of EM programs reported requiring a resident scholarly project; however, we found wide-ranging expectations for the type of resident research performed and how results were disseminated, as well as the degree of completion expected. Although 93% of RCPSC-EM programs reported providing formal training on how to conduct research, only 53% of CFPC-EM programs reported doing so. Almost all programs (94%) reported having infrastructure in place to support resident research, but the nature of support was highly variable. Finally, there was marked variability regarding the number of resident-published abstracts and manuscripts.
Based on the literature, our national survey, and discussions with stakeholders, we offer 14 recommendations encompassing goals, expectations, training, assessment, infrastructure, and dissemination in order to improve Canadian EM resident research.
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.
The vision of the recently created Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians (CAEP) Academic Section is to promote high-quality emergency patient care by conducting world-leading education and research in emergency medicine. The Academic Section plans to achieve this goal by enhancing academic emergency medicine primarily at Canadian medical schools and teaching hospitals. It seeks to foster and develop education, research, and academic leadership amongst Canadian emergency physicians, residents, and students. In this light, the Academic Section began in 2013 to hold the annual Academic Symposia to highlight best practices and recommendations for the three core domains of governance and leadership, education scholarship, and research. Each year, members of three panels are asked to review the literature, survey and interview experts, achieve consensus, and present their recommendations at the Symposium (2013, Education Scholarship; 2014, Research; and 2015, Governance and Funding).
Research is essential to medical advancement. As a relatively young specialty, emergency medicine is rapidly evolving to adapt to new diagnostic tools, the challenges of crowding in emergency departments, and the growing needs of emergency patients. There is significant variability in the infrastructure, support, and productivity of emergency medicine research programs across Canada. All Canadians benefit from an investigation of the means to improve research infrastructure, training programs, and funding opportunities. Such an analysis is essential to identify areas for improvement, which will support the expansion of emergency medicine research. To this end, physician-scientist leaders were gathered from across Canada to develop pragmatic recommendations on the improvement of emergency medicine research through a comprehensive analysis of current best practices, systematic literature reviews, stakeholder surveys, and expert interviews.
We sought to 1) identify best practices for training and mentoring clinician researchers, 2) characterize facilitators and barriers for Canadian emergency medicine researchers, and 3) develop pragmatic recommendations to improve and standardize emergency medicine postgraduate research training programs to build research capacity.
We performed a systematic review of MEDLINE and Embase using search terms relevant to emergency medicine research fellowship/graduate training. We conducted an email survey of all Canadian emergency physician researchers. The Society for Academic Emergency Medicine (SAEM) research fellowship program was analysed, and other similar international programs were sought. An expert panel reviewed these data and presented recommendations at the Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians (CAEP) 2014 Academic Symposium. We refined our recommendations based on feedback received.
Of 1,246 potentially relevant citations, we included 10 articles. We identified five key themes: 1) creating training opportunities; 2) ensuring adequate protected time; 3) salary support; 4) infrastructure; and 5) mentorship. Our survey achieved a 72% (67/93) response rate. From these responses, 42 (63%) consider themselves clinical researchers (i.e., spend a significant proportion of their career conducting research). The single largest constraint to conducting research was funding. Factors felt to be positive contributors to a clinical research career included salary support, research training (including an advanced graduate degree), mentorship, and infrastructure. The SAEM research fellowship was the only emergency medicine research fellowship program identified. This 2-year program requires approval of both the teaching centre and each applying fellow. This program requires training in 15 core competencies, manuscript preparation, and submission of a large grant to a national peer-review funding organization.
We recommend that the CAEP Academic Section create a process to endorse research fellowship/graduate training programs. These programs should include two phases: Phase I: Research fellowship/graduate training would include an advanced research university degree and 15 core learning areas. Phase II: research consolidation involves a further 1-3 years with an emphasis on mentorship and scholarship production. It is anticipated that clinician scientists completing Phase I and Phase II training at a CAEP Academic Section-endorsed site(s) will be independent researchers with a higher likelihood of securing external peer-reviewed funding and be able to have a meaningful external impact in emergency medicine research.
Outcome feedback is the process of learning patient outcomes after their care within the emergency department. We conducted a national survey of Canadian Royal College emergency medicine (EM) residents and program directors to determine the extent to which active outcome feedback and follow-up occurred. We also compared the perceived educational value of outcome feedback between residents and program directors.
We distributed surveys to all Royal College-accredited adult and pediatric EM training programs using a modified Dillman method. We analyzed the data using student’s t-test for continuous variables and Fisher’s exact test for categorical variables.
We received 210 completed surveys from 260 eligible residents (80.8%) and 21 of 24 program directors (87.5%) (overall 81.3%). Mandatory active outcome feedback was not present in any EM training program for admitted or discharged patients (0/21). Follow-up was performed electively by 89.4% of residents for patients admitted to the hospital, and by 44.2% of residents for patients discharged home. A majority of residents (76.9%) believed that patient follow-up should be mandatory compared to 42.9% of program directors (p=0.002). The perceived educational value of outcome feedback was 5.8/7 for residents and 5.1/7 for program directors (difference 0.7; p=0.002) based on a seven-point Likert scale (1=not important; 7=very important).
While Canadian EM training programs do not mandate follow-up, it is performed electively by the majority of residents surveyed. Residents place a significantly greater educational value on outcome feedback than their program directors, and believe that follow-up should be a mandatory component of EM residencies.
We sought to assess sex differences in clinical presentation, management and outcome in emergency department (ED) patients with chest pain, and to measure the association between female sex and coronary angiography within 30 days.
We conducted a prospective cohort study in an urban academic ED between Jul. 1, 2007, and Apr. 1, 2008. We enrolled patients over 24 years of age with chest pain and possible acute coronary syndrome (ACS).
Among the 970 included patients, 386 (39.8%) were female. Compared with men, women had a lower prevalence of known coronary artery disease (21.0% v. 34.2%, p < 0.001) and a lower frequency of typical pain (37.1% v. 45.7%, p = 0.01). Clinicians classified a greater proportion of women as having a low (< 10%) pretest probability for ACS (85.0% v. 76.4%, p = 0.001). Despite similar rates of electrocardiography, troponin T and stress testing between sexes, there was a lower rate of acute myocardial infarction (AMI) (4.7% v. 8.4%, p = 0.03) and positive stress test results (4.4% v. 7.9%, p = 0.03) in women. Women were less frequently referred for coronary angiography (9.3% v. 18.9%, p < 0.001). The adjusted association between female sex and coronary angiography was not significant (odds ratio 0.63, 95% confidence interval 0.37–1.10).
Women had a lower rate of AMI and a lower rate of positive stress test results despite similar rates of testing between sexes. Although women were less frequently referred for coronary angiography, these data suggest that sex differences in management were likely appropriate for the probability of disease.
To enhance patient safety, it is important to understand the frequency and causes of adverse events (defined as unintended injuries related to health care management). We performed this study to describe the types and risk of adverse events in high-acuity areas of the emergency department (ED).
This prospective cohort study examined the outcomes of consecutive patients who received treatment at 2 tertiary care EDs. For discharged patients, we conducted a structured telephone interview 14 days after their initial visit; for admitted patients, we reviewed the inpatient charts. Three emergency physicians independently adjudicated flagged outcomes (e.g., death, return visits to the ED) to determine whether an adverse event had occurred.
We enrolled 503 patients; one-half (n = 254) were female and the median age was 57 (range 18–98) years. The majority of patients (n = 369, 73.3%) were discharged home. The most common presenting complaints were chest pain, generalized weakness and abdominal pain. Of the 107 patients with flagged outcomes, 43 (8.5%, 95% confidence interval 8.1%–8.9%) were considered to have had an adverse event through our peer review process, and over half of these (24, 55.8%) were considered preventable. The most common types of adverse events were as follows: management issues (n = 18, 41.9%), procedural complications (n = 13, 30.2%) and diagnostic issues (n = 10, 23.3%). The clinical consequences of these adverse events ranged from minor (urinary tract infection) to serious (delayed diagnosis of aortic dissection).
We detected a higher proportion of preventable adverse events compared with previous inpatient studies and suggest confirmation of these results is warranted among a wider selection of EDs.
Information gaps, defined as previously collected information that is not available to the treating physician, have implications for patient safety and system efficiency. For patients transferred to an emergency department (ED) from a nursing home or seniors residence, we determined the frequency and type of clinically important information gaps and the impact of a regional transfer form.
During a 6-month period, we studied consecutive patients who were identified through the National Ambulatory Care Reporting System database. Patients were over 60 years of age, lived in a nursing home or seniors residence, and arrived by ambulance to a tertiary care ED. We abstracted data from original transfer and ED records using a structured data collection tool. We measured the frequency of prespecified information gaps, which we defined as the failure to communicate information usually required by an emergency physician (EP). We also determined the use of the standardized patient transfer form that is used in Ontario and its impact on the rate of information gaps that occur in our community.
We studied 457 transfers for 384 patients. Baseline dementia was present in 34.1% of patients. Important information gaps occurred in 85.5% (95% confidence interval [CI] 82.0%–88.0%) of cases. Specific information gaps along with their relative frequency included the following: the reason for transfer (12.9%), the baseline cognitive function and communication ability (36.5%), vital signs (37.6%), advanced directives (46.4%), medication (20.4%), activities of daily living (53.0%) and mobility (47.7%). A standardized transfer form was used in 42.7% of transfers. When the form was used, information gaps were present in 74.9% of transfers compared with 93.5% of the transfers when the form was not used (p < 0.001). Descriptors of the patient's chief complaint were frequently absent (81.0% for head injury [any information about loss of consciousness], 42.4% for abdominal pain and 47.1% for chest pain [any information on location, severity and duration]).
Information gaps occur commonly when elderly patients are transferred from a nursing home or seniors residence to the ED. A standardized transfer form was associated with a limited reduction in the prevalence of information gaps; even when the form was used, a large percentage of the transfers were missing information. We also determined that the lack of descriptive detail regarding the presenting problem was common. We believe this represents a previously unidentified information gap in the literature about nursing home transfers. Future research should focus on the clinical impact of information gaps. System improvements should focus on educational and regulatory interventions, as well as adjustments to the transfer form.
Treating the pain of land-based envenomations is an acute care priority, since the discomfort may be both severe and long lasting. In some cases, administration of antivenom (or antivenin) can dramatically relieve pain and other symptoms of envenomation, even after failure of other approaches such as opioids and muscle relaxants. While neurotoxic envenomation should prompt close respiratory monitoring, opioids should be administered if clinically indicated for pain relief. The histamine pathway's contributions to terrestrial envenomation symptoms create a role for antihistamines (e.g. diphenhydramine) in treating land-based bites and stings. NSAIDs have been reported useful in small case series of bites from spiders such as brown recluses and tarantulas. Preliminary evidence from animal models and case reports suggests a role for NSAIDs for scorpion envenomation. Case studies suggest that corticosteroids are occasionally useful for some centipede bites, especially in cases in which Wells' syndrome (eosinophilic cellulitis) develops.
Our objective was to determine the practice patterns of Canadian emergency physicians with respect to the management of traumatic corneal abrasions.
After developing our instrument and pilot testing it on a sample of emergency residents, we randomly surveyed 470 members of the Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians, using a modified Dillman technique. We distributed a pre-notification letter, an 18-item survey, and appropriate follow-up surveys to non-responders. Those members with an email address (n = 400) received a Web-based survey, and those without (n = 70) received a survey by post. The survey focused on the indications and utilization of analgesics (oral and topical), cycloplegics, eye patches and topical antibiotics.
Our response rate was 64% (301/470), and the median age of respondents was 38 years. Most (77.7%) were male, 71.8% were full-time emergency physicians, 76.5% were emergency medicine certified, and 64.4% practised in teaching hospitals. Pain management preferences (offered usually or always) included oral analgesics (82.1%), cycloplegics (65.1%) and topical nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) (52.8%). Only 21.6% of respondents performed patching, and most (71.2%) prescribed topical antibiotics, particularly for contact lens wearers and patients with ocular foreign bodies. Two-thirds of the respondents provided tetanus toxoid if a foreign body was present, and 46.2% did so even if a foreign body was not present. Most respondents (88.0%) routinely arranged follow-up.
This national survey of emergency physicians demonstrates a lack of consensus on the management of traumatic corneal abrasions. Further study is indicated to determine the optimal treatment, particularly regarding the use of topical NSAIDs.
Objective: To identify and compare clinical practice
guideline appraisal instruments.
Methods: Appraisal instruments,
defined as instruments intended to be used for guideline evaluation,
were identified by searching MEDLINE (1966–99) using the Medical
Subject Heading (MeSH) practice guidelines, reviewing bibliographies
of the retrieved articles, and contacting authors of guideline
appraisal instruments. Two reviewers independently examined the
questions/statements from all the instruments and thematically
grouped them. The 44 groupings were collapsed into 10 guideline
attributes. Using the items, two reviewers independently undertook a
content analysis of the instruments.
Results: Fifteen instruments were identified, and two were excluded
because they were not focused on evaluation. All instruments were
developed after 1992 and contained 8 to 142
questions/statements. Of the 44 items used for the content analysis,
the number of items covered by each instrument ranged from 6 to 34.
Only the instrument by Cluzeau and colleagues
included at least one item for each of the 10 attributes, and
it addressed 28 of the 44 items. This instrument and that of Shaneyfelt
et al. are the only instruments that have so far been validated.
Conclusions: A comprehensive, concise, and valid instrument could help
users systematically judge the quality and utility of clinical
practice guidelines. The current instruments vary widely in
length and comprehensiveness. There is insufficient evidence
to support the exclusive use of any one instrument, although the
Cluzeau instrument has received the greatest evaluation. More
research is required on the reliability and validity of existing
guideline appraisal instruments before any one instrument can become
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