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1.  Resource use and outcome in critically ill patients with hematological malignancy: a retrospective cohort study 
Critical Care  2008;12(3):R75.
The paucity of data on resource use in critically ill patients with hematological malignancy and on these patients' perceived poor outcome can lead to uncertainty over the extent to which intensive care treatment is appropriate. The aim of the present study was to assess the amount of intensive care resources needed for, and the effect of treatment of, hemato-oncological patients in the intensive care unit (ICU) in comparison with a nononcological patient population with a similar degree of organ dysfunction.
A retrospective cohort study of 101 ICU admissions of 84 consecutive hemato-oncological patients and 3,808 ICU admissions of 3,478 nononcological patients over a period of 4 years was performed.
As assessed by Therapeutic Intervention Scoring System points, resource use was higher in hemato-oncological patients than in nononcological patients (median (interquartile range), 214 (102 to 642) versus 95 (54 to 224), P < 0.0001). Severity of disease at ICU admission was a less important predictor of ICU resource use than necessity for specific treatment modalities. Hemato-oncological patients and nononcological patients with similar admission Simplified Acute Physiology Score scores had the same ICU mortality. In hemato-oncological patients, improvement of organ function within the first 48 hours of the ICU stay was the best predictor of 28-day survival.
The presence of a hemato-oncological disease per se is associated with higher ICU resource use, but not with increased mortality. If withdrawal of treatment is considered, this decision should not be based on admission parameters but rather on the evolutional changes in organ dysfunctions.
PMCID: PMC2481472  PMID: 18538003
2.  Nutritional practices and their relationship to clinical outcomes in critically ill children—An international multicenter cohort study* 
Critical care medicine  2012;40(7):2204-2211.
To examine factors influencing the adequacy of energy and protein intake in the pediatric intensive care unit and to describe their relationship to clinical outcomes in mechanically ventilated children.
Design, Setting, Patients
We conducted an international prospective cohort study of consecutive children (ages 1 month to 18 yrs) requiring mechanical ventilation longer than 48 hrs in the pediatric intensive care unit. Nutritional practices were recorded during the pediatric intensive care unit stay for a maximum of 10 days, and patients were followed up for 60 days or until hospital discharge. Multivariate analysis, accounting for pediatric intensive care unit clustering and important confounding variables, was used to examine the impact of nutritional variables and pediatric intensive care unit characteristics on 60-day mortality and the prevalence of acquired infections.
Main Results
31 pediatric intensive care units in academic hospitals in eight countries participated in this study. Five hundred patients with mean (sd) age 4.5 (5.1) yrs were enrolled and included in the analysis. Mortality at 60 days was 8.4%, and 107 of 500 (22%) patients acquired at least one infection during their pediatric intensive care unit stay. Over 30% of patients had severe malnutrition on admission, with body mass index z-score >2 (13.2%) or <−2 (17.1%) on admission. Mean prescribed goals for daily energy and protein intake were 64 kcals/kg and 1.7 g/kg respectively. Enteral nutrition was used in 67% of the patients and was initiated within 48 hrs of admission in the majority of patients. Enteral nutrition was subsequently interrupted on average for at least 2 days in 357 of 500 (71%) patients. Mean (sd) percentage daily nutritional intake (enteral nutrition) compared to prescribed goals was 38% (34) for energy and 43% (44) for protein. A higher percentage of goal energy intake via enteral nutrition route was significantly associated with lower 60-day mortality (Odds ratio for increasing energy intake from 33.3% to 66.6% is 0.27 [0.11, 0.67], p = .002). Mortality was higher in patients who received parenteral nutrition (odds ratio 2.61 [1.3, 5.3], p = .008). Patients admitted to units that utilized a feeding protocol had a lower prevalence of acquired infections (odds ratio 0.18 [0.05, 0.64], p = .008), and this association was independent of the amount of energy or protein intake.
Nutrition delivery is generally inadequate in mechanically ventilated children across the world. Intake of a higher percentage of prescribed dietary energy goal via enteral route was associated with improved 60-day survival; conversely, parenteral nutrition use was associated with higher mortality. Pediatric intensive care units that utilized protocols for the initiation and advancement of enteral nutrient intake had a lower prevalence of acquired infections. Optimizing nutrition therapy is a potential avenue for improving clinical outcomes in critically ill children.
PMCID: PMC3704225  PMID: 22564954
adequacy; critical care; enteral; infections; mortality; nutrition; parenteral; pediatric; pediatric intensive care unit
3.  Macrophage Activation Syndrome in Children with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus and Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2012;64(12):4135-4142.
To describe patient demographics, interventions, and outcomes in hospitalized children with macrophage activation syndrome (MAS) complicating systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) or juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA).
Retrospective cohort study of the Pediatric Health Information System (PHIS) database, Oct 1, 2006 to September 30, 2010. Participants had ICD-9-CM diagnosis codes for MAS and either SLE or JIA. The primary outcome was hospital mortality. Secondary outcomes included intensive care unit (ICU) admission, critical care interventions, and medication use.
121 children at 28 children’s hospitals met inclusion criteria, including 19 with SLE and 102 with JIA. Index admission mortality was 7% (8/121). ICU admission (33%), mechanical ventilation (26%), and inotrope/vasopressor therapy (26%) were common. Compared to children with JIA, those with SLE had similar mortality (6% versus 11%, exact p = 0.6), more ICU care (63% versus 27%, p = 0.002), more mechanical ventilation (53% versus 21%, p = 0.003), and more cardiovascular dysfunction (inotrope/vasopressor 47% versus 23%, p = 0.02). Children with SLE and JIA received cyclosporine at similar rates, but more children with SLE received cyclophosphamide and mycophenolate mofetil and more children with JIA received interleukin-1 antagonists.
Organ system dysfunction is common in children with rheumatic diseases complicated by MAS, and children with underlying SLE require more organ system support than children with JIA. Current treatment of pediatric MAS varies based on the underlying rheumatic disease.
PMCID: PMC3505557  PMID: 22886474
4.  Pediatric Intensive Care Unit admission criteria for haemato-oncological patients: a basis for clinical guidelines implementation 
Pediatric Reports  2011;3(2):e13.
Recent advances in supportive care and progress in the development and use of chemotherapy have considerably improved the prognosis of many children with malignancy, thus the need for intensive care admission and management is increasing, reaching about 40% of patients throughout the disease course. Cancer remains a major death cause in children, though outcomes have considerably improved over the past decades. Prediction of outcome for children with cancer in Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) obviously requires clinical guidelines, and these are not well defined, as well as admission criteria. Major determinants of negative outcomes remain severe sepsis/septic shock association and respiratory failure, deserving specific approach in children with cancer, particularly those receiving a bone marrow transplantation. A nationwide consensus should be achieved among pediatric intensivists and oncologists regarding the threshold clinical conditions requiring Intensive Care Unit (ICU) admission as well as specific critical care protocols. As demonstrated for the critically ill non-oncologic child, it appears unreasonable that pediatric patients with malignancy can be admitted to an adult Intensive Care Unit ICU. On a national basis a pool of refecence institutions should be identified and early referral to an oncologic PICU is warranted.
PMCID: PMC3133495  PMID: 21772950
intensive care; malignancy; Pediatric Intensive Care Unit admission criteria; children; critically ill.
5.  The Factors Associated With High-Quality Communication for Critically Ill Children 
Pediatrics  2013;131(Suppl 1):S90-S95.
Timely, high quality communication with families is essential to family-centered decision-making. Quality communication is represented by widespread documentation of prognostic, goals-of-care conversations (PGOCC) in the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) and should occur without variation by patient characteristics.
Cohort included 645 PICU admissions in the top decile of risk of mortality on admission over six years. Electronic medical records were used to determine PGOCC, diagnosis on admission and complex chronic condition (CCC) status. Multivariate logistic regression and time-to-event analyses were used.
Overall, 31% had a documented PGOCC. 51% had CCC status. 11% had an oncologic, 13% had a cardiovascular diagnosis on admission. 94% of patients who died in the PICU had PGOCC documented, but among the 200 patients with documented PGOCC, 78% did not die in the PICU. Oncologic diagnosis on admission was associated with a higher likelihood of PGOCC compared to non-CCC patients (ARR=1.86; SE=0.26) whereas no other diagnosis category reached the level of statistical significance. Median time from admission to PGOCC was 2 days. Age, gender and CCC status were not associated with whether a PGOCC was documented or with time from admission to PGOCC documentation. 45% of PGOCC in the cohort and 50% of conversations in patients with CCC were documented by PICU physicians.
This study reveals the opportunity for improvement in documentation of PGOCC for critically ill children. It raises the questions of why there is variation of PGOCC across disease categories and whether PGOCC should be considered a quality measure for family-centered care.
PMCID: PMC4258825  PMID: 23457155
quality improvement; pediatric ICU; family-centered care; patient care planning; doctor–patient communication
6.  Prolonged non-survival in PICU: does a do-not-attempt-resuscitation order matter 
BMC Anesthesiology  2013;13:43.
Etiologies of pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) mortality are diverse. This study aimed to investigate the pattern of PICU mortality in a regional trauma center, and explore factors associated with prolonged non-survival.
Demographic data of all PICU deaths in a regional trauma center were analyzed. Factors associated with prolonged nonsurvival (length of stay) were investigated with univariate log rank and multivariate Cox-Regression forward stepwise tests.
There were 88 deaths (males 61%; infants 23%) over 10 years (median PICU stay = 3.5 days, interquartile range: 1 and 11 days). The mean annual mortality rate of PICU admissions was 5.8%. Septicemia with gram positive, gram negative and fungal pathogens were present in 13 (16%), 13 (16%) and 4 (5%) of these patients, respectively. Viruses were isolated in 25 patients (28%). Ninety percent of these 88 patients were ventilated, 75% required inotropes, 92% received broad spectrum antibiotic coverage, 32% received systemic corticosteroids, 56% required blood transfusion and 39% received anticonvulsants. Thirty nine patients (44%) had a DNAR (Do-Not-Attempt-Resuscitation) order with their deaths at the PICU. Comparing with non-trauma category, trauma patients had higher mortality score, no premorbid disease, suffered asystole preceding PICU admission and subsequent brain death. Oncologic conditions were the most prevalent diagnosis in the non-trauma category. There was no gunshot or asthma death in this series. Prolonged non-survival was significantly associated with DNAR, fungal infections, and mechanical ventilation but negatively associated with bacteremia.
Death in the PICU is a heterogeneous event that involves infants and children. Resuscitation was not attempted at the time of their deaths in nearly half of the patients in honor of parents’ wishes. Parents often make DNAR decision when medical futility becomes evident. They could be reassured that DNAR did not mean “abandoning” care. Instead, DNAR patients had prolonged PICU stay and received the same level of PICU supports as patients who did not respond to cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
PMCID: PMC3840561  PMID: 24237685
Bacteria; Fungus; PICU; Pediatric intensive care; Malignancy; Mortality; Oncology; PIM2; Sepsis; Trauma; Virus; Do-not-attempt-resuscitation (DNAR); Not-responding-to-cardiopulmonary-resuscitation (NRCPR); Brain death; Organ donation
7.  Left Ventricular Assist Devices 
Executive Summary
The objective of this health technology policy assessment was to determine the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of using implantable ventricular assist devices in the treatment of end-stage heart failure.
Heart Failure
Heart failure is a complex syndrome that impairs the ability of the heart to maintain adequate blood circulation, resulting in multiorgan abnormalities and, eventually, death. In the period of 1994 to 1997, 38,702 individuals in Ontario had a first hospital admission for heart failure. Despite reported improvement in survival, the five-year mortality rate for heart failure is about 50%.
For patients with end-stage heart failure that does not respond to medical therapy, surgical treatment or traditional circulatory assist devices, heart transplantation (in appropriate patients) is the only treatment that provides significant patient benefit.
Heart Transplant in Ontario
With a shortage in the supply of donor hearts, patients are waiting longer for a heart transplant and may die before a donor heart is available. From 1999 to 2003, 55 to 74 people received a heart transplant in Ontario each year. Another 12 to 21 people died while waiting for a suitable donor heart. Of these, 1 to 5 deaths occurred in people under 18 years old. The rate-limiting factor in heart transplant is the supply of donor hearts. Without an increase in available donor hearts, attempts at prolonging the life of some patients on the transplant wait list could have a harmful effect on other patients that are being pushed down the waiting list (knock on effect).
LVAD Technology
Ventricular assist devices [VADs] have been developed to provide circulatory assistance to patients with end-stage heart failure. These are small pumps that usually assist the damaged left ventricle [LVADs] and may be situated within the body (intracorporeal] or outside the body [extracorporeal). Some of these devices were designed for use in the right ventricle [RVAD] or both ventricles (bi-ventricular).
LVADs have been mainly used as a “bridge-to-transplant” for patients on a transplant waiting list. As well, they have been used as a “bridge-to-recovery” in acute heart failure, but this experience is limited. There has been an increasing interest in using LVAD as a permanent (destination) therapy.
Review of LVAD by the Medical Advisory Secretariat
The Medical Advisory Secretariat’s review included a descriptive synthesis of findings from five systematic reviews and 60 reports published between January 2000 and December 2003. Additional information was obtained through consultation and by searching the websites of Health Canada, the United Network of Organ Sharing, Organ Donation Ontario, and LVAD manufacturers.
Summary of Findings
Safety and Effectiveness
Previous HTAs and current Level 3 evidence from prospective non-randomized controlled studies showed that when compared to optimal medical therapy, LVAD support significantly improved the pre-transplant survival rates of heart transplant candidates waiting for a suitable donor heart (71% for LVAD and 36% for medical therapy). Pre-transplant survival rates reported ranged from 58% to 90% (median 74%). Improved transplant rates were also reported for people who received pre-transplant LVAD support (e.g. 67% for LVAD vs 33% for medical therapy). Reported transplant rates for LVAD patients ranged from 39% to 90% (median 71%).
Patient’s age greater than 60 years and pre-existing conditions of respiratory failure associated with septicemia, ventilation, and right heart failure were independent risk factors for mortality after the LVAD implantation.
LVAD support was shown to improve the New York Heart Association [NYHA)] functional classification and quality of life of patients waiting for heart transplant. LVAD also enabled approximately 41% - 49% of patients to be discharged from hospitals and wait for a heart transplant at home. However, over 50% of the discharged patients required re-hospitalization due to adverse events.
Post-transplant survival rates for LVAD-bridged patients were similar to or better than the survival rates of patients bridged by medical therapy.
LVAD support has been associated with serious adverse events, including infection (median 53%, range 6%–72%), bleeding (8.6%–48%, median 35%), thromboembolism (5%–37%), neurologic disorders (7%–28%), right ventricular failure (11%–26%), organ dysfunction (5%–50%) and hemolysis (6%–20%). Bleeding tends to occur in the first few post-implant days and is rare thereafter. It is fatal in 2%–7% of patients. Infection and thromboembolism occurred throughout the duration of the implant, though their frequency tended to diminish with time. Device malfunction has been identified as one of the major complications. Fatalities directly attributable to the devices were about 1% in short-term LVAD use. However, mechanical failure was the second most frequent cause of death in patients on prolonged LVAD support. Malfunctions were mainly associated with the external components, and often could be replaced by backed up components.
LVAD has been used as a bridge-to-recovery in patients suffering from acute cardiogenic shock due to cardiomyopathy, myocarditis or cardiotomy. The survival rates were reported to be lower than in bridge-to-transplant (median 26%). Some of the bridge-to-recovery patients (14%–75%) required a heart transplant or remained on prolonged LVAD support. According to an expert in the field, experience with LVAD as a bridge-to-recovery technology has been more favourable in Germany than in North America, where it is not regarded as a major indication since evidence for its effectiveness in this setting is limited.
LVAD has also been explored as a destination therapy. A small, randomized, controlled trial (level 2 evidence) showed that LVAD significantly increased the 1-year survival rate of patients with end-stage heart failure but were not eligible for a heart transplant (51% LVAD vs 25% for medical therapy). However, improved survival was associated with adverse events 2.35 times higher than medically treated patients and a higher hospital re-admission rate. The 2-year survival rate on LVAD decreased to 23%, although it was still significantly better compared to patients on medical therapy (8%). The leading causes of deaths were sepsis (41%) and device failure (17%).
The FDA has given conditional approval for the permanent use of HeartMate SNAP VE LVAS in patients with end-stage heart failure who are not eligible for heart transplantation, although the long-term effect of this application is not known.
In Canada, four LVAD systems have been licensed for bridge-to-transplant only. The use of LVAD support raises ethical issues because of the implications of potential explantation that could be perceived as a withdrawal of life support.
Potential Impact on the Transplant Waiting List
With the shortage of donor hearts for adults, LVAD support probably would not increase the number of patients who receive a heart transplant. If LVAD supported candidates are prioritized for urgent heart transplant, there will be a knock on effect as other transplant candidates without LVAD support would be pushed down, resulting in longer wait, deterioration in health status and die before a suitable donor heart becomes available.
Under the current policy for allocating donor hearts in Ontario, patients on LVAD support would be downgraded to Status 3 with a lower priority to receive a transplant. This would likely result in an expansion of the transplant waiting list with an increasing number of patients on prolonged LVAD support, which is not consistent with the indication of LVAD use approved by Health Canada.
There is indication in the United Kingdom that LVAD support in conjunction with an urgent transplant listing in the pediatric population may decrease the number of deaths on the waiting list without a harmful knock-on effect on other transplant candidates.
LVAD support as a bridge-to-transplant has been shown to improve the survival rate, functional status and quality of life of patients on the heart transplant waiting list. However, due to the shortage of donor hearts and the current heart transplant algorithm, LVAD support for transplant candidates of all age groups would likely result in an expansion of the waiting list and prolonged use of LVAD with significant budget implications but without increasing the number of heart transplants. Limited level 4 evidence showed that LVAD support in children yielded survival rates comparable to those in the adult population. The introduction of LVAD in the pediatric population would be more cost-effective and might not have a negative effect on the transplant waiting list.
PMCID: PMC3387736  PMID: 23074453
8.  The opinion of clinical staff regarding painfulness of procedures in pediatric hematology-oncology: an Italian survey 
Beliefs of caregivers about patient's pain have been shown to influence assessment and treatment of children's pain, now considered an essential part of cancer treatment. Painful procedures in hematology-oncology are frequently referred by children as the most painful experiences during illness. Aim of this study was to evaluate professionals' beliefs about painfulness of invasive procedures repeatedly performed in Pediatric Hemato-Oncology Units.
Physicians, nurses, psychologists and directors working in Hemato-Oncology Units of the Italian Association of Pediatric Hematology-Oncology (AIEOP) were involved in a wide-nation survey. The survey was based on an anonymous questionnaire investigating beliefs of operators about painfulness of invasive procedures (lumbar puncture, bone marrow aspirate and bone marrow biopsy) and level of pain management.
Twenty-four directors, 120 physicians, 248 nurses and 22 psychologists responded to the questionnaire. The score assigned to the procedural pain on a 0-10 scale was higher than 5 in 77% of the operators for lumbar puncture, 97.5% for bone marrow aspiration, and 99.5% for bone marrow biopsy. The scores assigned by nurses differed statistically from those of the physicians and directors for the pain caused by lumbar puncture and bone marrow aspiration. Measures adopted for procedural pain control were generally considered good.
Invasive diagnostic-therapeutic procedures performed in Italian Pediatric Hemato-Oncology Units are considered painful by all the caregivers involved. Pain management is generally considered good. Aprioristically opinions about pain depend on invasiveness of the procedure and on the professional role.
PMCID: PMC3127832  PMID: 21663631
9.  Epidemiology, Species Distribution, Antifungal Susceptibility, and Outcome of Candidemia across Five Sites in Italy and Spain 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2013;51(12):4167-4172.
Candidemia has become an important bloodstream infection that is frequently associated with high rates of mortality and morbidity, and its growing incidence is related to complex medical and surgical procedures. We conducted a multicenter study in five tertiary care teaching hospitals in Italy and Spain and evaluated the epidemiology, species distribution, antifungal susceptibilities, and outcomes of candidemia episodes. In the period of 2008 to 2010, 995 episodes of candidemia were identified in these hospitals. The overall incidence of candidemia was 1.55 cases per 1,000 admissions and remained stable during the 3-year analysis. Candida albicans was the leading agent of infection (58.4%), followed by Candida parapsilosis complex (19.5%), Candida tropicalis (9.3%), and Candida glabrata (8.3%). The majority of the candidemia episodes were found in the internal medicine department (49.6%), followed by the surgical ward, the intensive care unit (ICU), and the hemato-oncology ward. Out of 955 patients who were eligible for evaluation, 381 (39.9%) died within 30 days from the onset of candidemia. Important differences in the 30-day mortality rates were noted between institutions: the lowest mortality rate was in the Barcelona hospital, and the highest rate was in the Udine hospital (33.6% versus 51%, respectively; P = 0.0005). Overall, 5.1% of the 955 isolates tested were resistant or susceptible dose dependent (SDD) to fluconazole, with minor differences between the hospitals in Italy and Spain (5.7% versus 3.5%, respectively; P = 0.2). Higher MICs for caspofungin were found, especially with C. parapsilosis complex (MIC90, 1 μg/ml). Amphotericin B had the lowest MICs. This report shows that candidemia is a significant source of morbidity in Europe, causing a substantial burden of disease and mortality.
PMCID: PMC3838046  PMID: 24108614
10.  A Multifaceted Intervention to Implement Guidelines and Improve Admission Paediatric Care in Kenyan District Hospitals: A Cluster Randomised Trial 
PLoS Medicine  2011;8(4):e1001018.
Philip Ayieko and colleagues report the outcomes of a cluster-randomized trial carried out in eight Kenyan district hospitals evaluating the effects of a complex intervention involving improved training and supervision for clinicians. They found a higher performance of hospitals assigned to the complex intervention on a variety of process of care measures, as compared to those receiving the control intervention.
In developing countries referral of severely ill children from primary care to district hospitals is common, but hospital care is often of poor quality. However, strategies to change multiple paediatric care practices in rural hospitals have rarely been evaluated.
Methods and Findings
This cluster randomized trial was conducted in eight rural Kenyan district hospitals, four of which were randomly assigned to a full intervention aimed at improving quality of clinical care (evidence-based guidelines, training, job aides, local facilitation, supervision, and face-to-face feedback; n = 4) and the remaining four to control intervention (guidelines, didactic training, job aides, and written feedback; n = 4). Prespecified structure, process, and outcome indicators were measured at baseline and during three and five 6-monthly surveys in control and intervention hospitals, respectively. Primary outcomes were process of care measures, assessed at 18 months postbaseline.
In both groups performance improved from baseline. Completion of admission assessment tasks was higher in intervention sites at 18 months (mean = 0.94 versus 0.65, adjusted difference 0.54 [95% confidence interval 0.05–0.29]). Uptake of guideline recommended therapeutic practices was also higher within intervention hospitals: adoption of once daily gentamicin (89.2% versus 74.4%; 17.1% [8.04%–26.1%]); loading dose quinine (91.9% versus 66.7%, 26.3% [−3.66% to 56.3%]); and adequate prescriptions of intravenous fluids for severe dehydration (67.2% versus 40.6%; 29.9% [10.9%–48.9%]). The proportion of children receiving inappropriate doses of drugs in intervention hospitals was lower (quinine dose >40 mg/kg/day; 1.0% versus 7.5%; −6.5% [−12.9% to 0.20%]), and inadequate gentamicin dose (2.2% versus 9.0%; −6.8% [−11.9% to −1.6%]).
Specific efforts are needed to improve hospital care in developing countries. A full, multifaceted intervention was associated with greater changes in practice spanning multiple, high mortality conditions in rural Kenyan hospitals than a partial intervention, providing one model for bridging the evidence to practice gap and improving admission care in similar settings.
Trial registration
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN42996612
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
In 2008, nearly 10 million children died in early childhood. Nearly all these deaths were in low- and middle-income countries—half were in Africa. In Kenya, for example, 74 out every 1,000 children born died before they reached their fifth birthday. About half of all childhood (pediatric) deaths in developing countries are caused by pneumonia, diarrhea, and malaria. Deaths from these common diseases could be prevented if all sick children had access to quality health care in the community (“primary” health care provided by health centers, pharmacists, family doctors, and traditional healers) and in district hospitals (“secondary” health care). Unfortunately, primary health care facilities in developing countries often lack essential diagnostic capabilities and drugs, and pediatric hospital care is frequently inadequate with many deaths occurring soon after admission. Consequently, in 1996, as part of global efforts to reduce childhood illnesses and deaths, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) introduced the Integrated Management of Childhood Illnesses (IMCI) strategy. This approach to child health focuses on the well-being of the whole child and aims to improve the case management skills of health care staff at all levels, health systems, and family and community health practices.
Why Was This Study Done?
The implementation of IMCI has been evaluated at the primary health care level, but its implementation in district hospitals has not been evaluated. So, for example, interventions designed to encourage the routine use of WHO disease-specific guidelines in rural pediatric hospitals have not been tested. In this cluster randomized trial, the researchers develop and test a multifaceted intervention designed to improve the implementation of treatment guidelines and admission pediatric care in district hospitals in Kenya. In a cluster randomized trial, groups of patients rather than individual patients are randomly assigned to receive alternative interventions and the outcomes in different “clusters” of patients are compared. In this trial, each cluster is a district hospital.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers randomly assigned eight Kenyan district hospitals to the “full” or “control” intervention, interventions that differed in intensity but that both included more strategies to promote implementation of best practice than are usually applied in Kenyan rural hospitals. The full intervention included provision of clinical practice guidelines and training in their use, six-monthly survey-based hospital assessments followed by face-to-face feedback of survey findings, 5.5 days training for health care workers, provision of job aids such as structured pediatric admission records, external supervision, and the identification of a local facilitator to promote guideline use and to provide on-site problem solving. The control intervention included the provision of clinical practice guidelines (without training in their use) and job aids, six-monthly surveys with written feedback, and a 1.5-day lecture-based seminar to explain the guidelines. The researchers compared the implementation of various processes of care (activities of patients and doctors undertaken to ensure delivery of care) in the intervention and control hospitals at baseline and 18 months later. The performance of both groups of hospitals improved during the trial but more markedly in the intervention hospitals than in the control hospitals. At 18 months, the completion of admission assessment tasks and the uptake of guideline-recommended clinical practices were both higher in the intervention hospitals than in the control hospitals. Moreover, a lower proportion of children received inappropriate doses of drugs such as quinine for malaria in the intervention hospitals than in the control hospitals.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that specific efforts are needed to improve pediatric care in rural Kenya and suggest that interventions that include more approaches to changing clinical practice may be more effective than interventions that include fewer approaches. These findings are limited by certain aspects of the trial design, such as the small number of participating hospitals, and may not be generalizable to other hospitals in Kenya or to hospitals in other developing countries. Thus, although these findings seem to suggest that efforts to implement and scale up improved secondary pediatric health care will need to include more than the production and dissemination of printed materials, further research including trials or evaluation of test programs are necessary before widespread adoption of any multifaceted approach (which will need to be tailored to local conditions and available resources) can be contemplated.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
WHO provides information on efforts to reduce global child mortality and on Integrated Management of Childhood Illness (IMCI); the WHO pocket book “Hospital care for children contains guidelines for the management of common illnesses with limited resources (available in several languages)
UNICEF also provides information on efforts to reduce child mortality and detailed statistics on child mortality
The iDOC Africa Web site, which is dedicated to improving the delivery of hospital care for children and newborns in Africa, provides links to the clinical guidelines and other resources used in this study
PMCID: PMC3071366  PMID: 21483712
11.  Effectiveness of Chest Physiotherapy in Infants Hospitalized with Acute Bronchiolitis: A Multicenter, Randomized, Controlled Trial 
PLoS Medicine  2010;7(9):e1000345.
Vincent Gajdos and colleagues report results of a randomized trial conducted among hospitalized infants with bronchiolitis. They show that a physiotherapy technique (increased exhalation and assisted cough) commonly used in France does not reduce time to recovery in this population.
Acute bronchiolitis treatment in children and infants is largely supportive, but chest physiotherapy is routinely performed in some countries. In France, national guidelines recommend a specific type of physiotherapy combining the increased exhalation technique (IET) and assisted cough (AC). Our objective was to evaluate the efficacy of chest physiotherapy (IET + AC) in previously healthy infants hospitalized for a first episode of acute bronchiolitis.
Methods and Findings
We conducted a multicenter, randomized, outcome assessor-blind and parent-blind trial in seven French pediatric departments. We recruited 496 infants hospitalized for first-episode acute bronchiolitis between October 2004 and January 2008. Patients were randomly allocated to receive from physiotherapists three times a day, either IET + AC (intervention group, n = 246) or nasal suction (NS, control group, n = 250). Only physiotherapists were aware of the allocation group of the infant. The primary outcome was time to recovery, defined as 8 hours without oxygen supplementation associated with minimal or no chest recession, and ingesting more than two-thirds of daily food requirements. Secondary outcomes were intensive care unit admissions, artificial ventilation, antibiotic treatment, description of side effects during procedures, and parental perception of comfort. Statistical analysis was performed on an intent-to-treat basis. Median time to recovery was 2.31 days, (95% confidence interval [CI] 1.97–2.73) for the control group and 2.02 days (95% CI 1.96–2.34) for the intervention group, indicating no significant effect of physiotherapy (hazard ratio [HR]  = 1.09, 95% CI 0.91–1.31, p = 0.33). No treatment by age interaction was found (p = 0.97). Frequency of vomiting and transient respiratory destabilization was higher in the IET + AC group during the procedure (relative risk [RR]  = 10.2, 95% CI 1.3–78.8, p = 0.005 and RR  = 5.4, 95% CI 1.6–18.4, p = 0.002, respectively). No difference between groups in bradycardia with or without desaturation (RR  = 1.0, 95% CI 0.2–5.0, p = 1.00 and RR  = 3.6, 95% CI 0.7–16.9, p = 0.10, respectively) was found during the procedure. Parents reported that the procedure was more arduous in the group treated with IET (mean difference  = 0.88, 95% CI 0.33–1.44, p = 0.002), whereas there was no difference regarding the assessment of the child's comfort between both groups (mean difference  = −0.07, 95% CI −0.53 to 0.38, p = 0.40). No evidence of differences between groups in intensive care admission (RR  = 0.7, 95% CI 0.3–1.8, p = 0.62), ventilatory support (RR  = 2.5, 95% CI 0.5–13.0, p = 0.29), and antibiotic treatment (RR  = 1.0, 95% CI 0.7–1.3, p = 1.00) was observed.
IET + AC had no significant effect on time to recovery in this group of hospitalized infants with bronchiolitis. Additional studies are required to explore the effect of chest physiotherapy on ambulatory populations and for infants without a history of atopy.
Trial registration NCT00125450
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Bronchiolitis, which is usually caused by the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), is the commonest infection of the lower respiratory tract (the lungs and the passages through which air enters the lungs) in infants. A third of all children have bronchiolitis during their first year of life. The illness begins with stuffiness, a runny nose, a mild cough, and mild fever. Then, as the smallest airways in the lung (the bronchioles) become inflamed (swell) and blocked with mucus, the cough worsens, and the infant may develop a wheeze, shallow breathing, and a rapid heartbeat. Most cases of bronchiolitis are mild and clear up within two weeks without any treatment but some infants develop severe disease. Such infants struggle to get enough air into their lungs, drawing in their chest with each breath (chest recession). They have trouble eating and drinking, and the oxygen level in their blood can drop dangerously low. About 1% of previously healthy infants need hospitalization because of severe bronchiolitis. These severely affected infants are not normally given any medications but, where necessary, they are given oxygen therapy, fed through a tube into their stomach, and given fluids through a vein.
Why Was This Study Done?
In some countries, chest physiotherapy is routinely given to infants with bronchiolitis even though this is not a recommended treatment internationally. In France, for example, virtually all outpatients with bronchiolitis receive a form of chest physiotherapy known as increased exhalation technique with assisted cough (IET + AC). IET—manual chest compression—is designed to clear mucus from the bronchioles whereas AC—coughing triggered by applying pressure to the top of the breastbone—facilitates clearance of the large airways. But is IET + AC an effective treatment for bronchiolitis? In this study, the researchers undertook a multicenter, randomized, controlled trial to answer this question. A randomized trial is a study in which patients are randomly allocated to receive either the treatment under study or a control treatment. Usually in such trials, noone is aware of the treatment allocations until the trial has been completed. This is called blinding and avoids unconscious biases being introduced into the results. In this trial, although the parents, caregivers, and outcome assessors were blinded, the physiotherapists and the infants were aware of treatment allocations. The physiotherapists were not involved in patient assessment, however, and the infants were sufficiently young that their knowledge of their treatment was unlikely to bias the results.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers enrolled nearly 500 children aged 15 days to 2 years who were admitted to seven French hospitals for a first episode of acute bronchiolitis. They randomly allocated the patients to receive IET + AC (intervention group) or nasal suction (control group) three times a day from a physiotherapist working alone in a room with blacked-out windows. The primary outcome of the trial was the patients' time to recovery. Infants were judged to have recovered if they had not had oxygen therapy or showed signs of chest recession for 8 hours and had ingested more than two-thirds of their daily food requirement. Infants in the control group took an average of 2.31 days to recover whereas those in the intervention group took 2.02 days. However, this difference in recovery time was not statistically significant. That is, it could have happened by chance. The researchers also recorded several secondary outcomes such as admission to an intensive care unit, help with breathing, antibiotic treatment, and parental perceptions of their child's comfort. There were no significant differences between the two treatment groups for any of these secondary outcomes, although the parents did report that the IET + AC treatment was harder on their children than nasal suction while not reducing their overall comfort.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that IET + AC had no significant effect on the time to recovery of a large population of French infants admitted to hospital with severe bronchiolitis. These results cannot be extrapolated, however, to infants with mild or moderate bronchiolitis, and further studies are needed to assess whether chest physiotherapy is of any benefit in an outpatient setting. Three small trials of a different form of chest physiotherapy have also previously failed to find any effect of chest physiotherapy on recovery time. Thus, none of the currently available results support the routine use of chest physiotherapy in infants admitted to a hospital for severe bronchiolitis.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
The UK National Health Service Choices Web site provides detailed information on all aspects of bronchiolitis
Kidshealth, a resource maintained by the Nemours Foundation (a not-for-profit organization for children's health) provides information for parents on bronchiolitis schizophrenia and on respiratory syncytial virus (in English and Spanish)
The British Lung Foundation also provides information on bronchiolitis schizophrenia and on respiratory syncytial virus
The MedlinePlus encyclopedia has a page on bronchiolitis schizophrenia (in English and Spanish)
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has detailed information on respiratory syncytial virus
PMCID: PMC2946956  PMID: 20927359
12.  Circulating Mitochondrial DNA in Patients in the ICU as a Marker of Mortality: Derivation and Validation 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(12):e1001577.
In this paper, Choi and colleagues analyzed levels of mitochondrial DNA in two prospective observational cohort studies and found that increased mtDNA levels are associated with ICU mortality, and improve risk prediction in medical ICU patients. The data suggests that mtDNA could serve as a viable plasma biomarker in MICU patients.
Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is a critical activator of inflammation and the innate immune system. However, mtDNA level has not been tested for its role as a biomarker in the intensive care unit (ICU). We hypothesized that circulating cell-free mtDNA levels would be associated with mortality and improve risk prediction in ICU patients.
Methods and Findings
Analyses of mtDNA levels were performed on blood samples obtained from two prospective observational cohort studies of ICU patients (the Brigham and Women's Hospital Registry of Critical Illness [BWH RoCI, n = 200] and Molecular Epidemiology of Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome [ME ARDS, n = 243]). mtDNA levels in plasma were assessed by measuring the copy number of the NADH dehydrogenase 1 gene using quantitative real-time PCR. Medical ICU patients with an elevated mtDNA level (≥3,200 copies/µl plasma) had increased odds of dying within 28 d of ICU admission in both the BWH RoCI (odds ratio [OR] 7.5, 95% CI 3.6–15.8, p = 1×10−7) and ME ARDS (OR 8.4, 95% CI 2.9–24.2, p = 9×10−5) cohorts, while no evidence for association was noted in non-medical ICU patients. The addition of an elevated mtDNA level improved the net reclassification index (NRI) of 28-d mortality among medical ICU patients when added to clinical models in both the BWH RoCI (NRI 79%, standard error 14%, p<1×10−4) and ME ARDS (NRI 55%, standard error 20%, p = 0.007) cohorts. In the BWH RoCI cohort, those with an elevated mtDNA level had an increased risk of death, even in analyses limited to patients with sepsis or acute respiratory distress syndrome. Study limitations include the lack of data elucidating the concise pathological roles of mtDNA in the patients, and the limited numbers of measurements for some of biomarkers.
Increased mtDNA levels are associated with ICU mortality, and inclusion of mtDNA level improves risk prediction in medical ICU patients. Our data suggest that mtDNA could serve as a viable plasma biomarker in medical ICU patients.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Intensive care units (ICUs, also known as critical care units) are specialist hospital wards that provide care for people with life-threatening injuries and illnesses. In the US alone, more than 5 million people are admitted to ICUs every year. Different types of ICUs treat different types of problems. Medical ICUs treat patients who, for example, have been poisoned or who have a serious infection such as sepsis (blood poisoning) or severe pneumonia (inflammation of the lungs); trauma ICUs treat patients who have sustained a major injury; cardiac ICUs treat patients who have heart problems; and surgical ICUs treat complications arising from operations. Patients admitted to ICUs require constant medical attention and support from a team of specially trained nurses and physicians to prevent organ injury and to keep their bodies functioning. Monitors, intravenous tubes (to supply essential fluids, nutrients, and drugs), breathing machines, catheters (to drain urine), and other equipment also help to keep ICU patients alive.
Why Was This Study Done?
Although many patients admitted to ICUs recover, others do not. ICU specialists use scoring systems (algorithms) based on clinical signs and physiological measurements to predict their patients' likely outcomes. For example, the APACHE II scoring system uses information on heart and breathing rates, temperature, levels of salts in the blood, and other signs and physiological measurements collected during the first 24 hours in the ICU to predict the patient's risk of death. Existing scoring systems are not perfect, however, and “biomarkers” (molecules in bodily fluids that provide information about a disease state) are needed to improve risk prediction for ICU patients. Here, the researchers investigate whether levels of circulating cell-free mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) are associated with ICU deaths and whether these levels can be used as a biomarker to improve risk prediction in ICU patients. Mitochondria are cellular structures that produce energy. Levels of mtDNA in the plasma (the liquid part of blood) increase in response to trauma and infection. Moreover, mtDNA activates molecular processes that lead to inflammation and organ injury.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers measured mtDNA levels in the plasma of patients enrolled in two prospective observational cohort studies that monitored the outcomes of ICU patients. In the Brigham and Women's Hospital Registry of Critical Illness study, blood was taken from 200 patients within 24 hours of admission into the hospital's medical ICU. In the Molecular Epidemiology of Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome study (acute respiratory distress syndrome is a life-threatening inflammatory reaction to lung damage or infection), blood was taken from 243 patients within 48 hours of admission into medical and non-medical ICUs at two other US hospitals. Patients admitted to medical ICUs with a raised mtDNA level (3,200 or more copies of a specific mitochondrial gene per microliter of plasma) had a 7- to 8-fold increased risk of dying within 28 days of admission compared to patients with mtDNA levels of less than 3,200 copies/µl plasma. There was no evidence of an association between raised mtDNA levels and death among patients admitted to non-medical ICUs. The addition of an elevated mtDNA level to a clinical model for risk prediction that included the APACHE II score and biomarkers that are already used to predict ICU outcomes improved the net reclassification index (an indicator of the improvement in risk prediction algorithms offered by new biomarkers) of 28-day mortality among medical ICU patients in both studies.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that raised mtDNA plasma levels are associated with death in medical ICUs and show that, among patients in medical ICUs, measurement of mtDNA plasma levels can improve the prediction of the risk of death from the APACHE II scoring system, even when commonly measured biomarkers are taken into account. These findings do not indicate whether circulating cell-free mtDNA increased because of the underlying severity of illness or whether mtDNA actively contributes to the disease process in medical ICU patients. Moreover, they do not provide any evidence that raised mtDNA levels are associated with an increased risk of death among non-medical (mainly surgical) ICU patients. These findings need to be confirmed in additional patients, but given the relative ease and rapidity of mtDNA measurement, the determination of circulating cell-free mtDNA levels could be a valuable addition to the assessment of patients admitted to medical ICUs.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides information about intensive care
The Society of Critical Care Medicine provides information for professionals, families, and patients about all aspects of intensive care
MedlinePlus provides links to other resources about intensive care (in English and Spanish)
The UK charity ICUsteps supports patients and their families through recovery from critical illness; its booklet Intensive Care: A Guide for Patients and Families is available in English and ten other languages; its website includes patient experiences and relative experiences of treatment in ICUs
Wikipedia has a page on ICU scoring systems (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
PMCID: PMC3876981  PMID: 24391478
13.  A prospective audit of costs of intensive care in cancer patients in India 
The costs of healthcare are increasing. Intensive care poses largest burden on the hospital budget, even in developed countries. We attempted to find out the costs of intensive care in an Indian cancer hospital.
Materials and Methods:
Cost data was prospectively collected for patient-related and non-patient-related activities in a mixed surgical, medical cancer ICU. Demographic data, source, reason, and length of ICU stay were recorded. Total per day costs, costs for patients admitted from wards and operating rooms, and effective cost per survivor (ECPS) were calculated.
Data was collected for 101 consecutive ICU patients. Fifty-five patients were admitted after surgery (total patient hours 3485 i.e., 145.21 patient days). The mean (SD) intensive care unit length of stay (ICU LOS) was 64.84 (58.47) hrs. (8.25 to 552). Fifty-three patients survived to discharge. Forty-six patients were admitted from wards (hematooncology) or casualty and stayed 3980.25 patient hrs (165.84 patient days). The mean (SD, range) ICU LOS was 106.84 (64.05, 1-336) hrs. Of these, 26 patients survived to discharge. The effective cost per survivor (ECPS) was significantly higher for patients admitted from wards. [Rs. 83,558 = 00 (USD 1856.84) vs. Rs. 15,049 = 00 (USD 334.42)].
The costs of ICU place much higher burden on the patients as the Indian GDP and per capita income is much lower. Better selection process is needed for hemato-oncology patients for ICU admission for better utilization of scarce resources. Such data as ours can be used to inform families and physicians about anticipated costs.
PMCID: PMC3841492  PMID: 24339641
Cost analysis; costs; effective cost per survivor; health economics; intensive care; length of stay
14.  Evaluation of Prescribing Medications for Terminal Cancer Patients near Death: Essential or Futile 
The purpose of this study is to evaluate the prescription of essential or futile medications for terminal cancer patients during their final admission.
Materials and Methods
We conducted a retrospective review of the medical charts of terminally ill cancer patients admitted to the Hemato-oncology Department of two teaching hospitals from March 1, 2007 to December 31, 2009. Essential medications were based on the drugs listed by the International Association for Hospice and Palliative Care, while futile medications were defined when short-term benefit to patients with respect to survival, quality of life, or symptom control was not anticipated.
A total of 196 patients were included. Among essential medications, strong opioids were the most frequently prescribed drugs during the last admission (62.2% fentanyl, 44.3% morphine), followed by megestrol (46.0%), and metoclopramide (37.2%); 51% of gastric protectors were prescribed with potential futility. Anti-hypertensive and antiglycemic agents were administered to those who experienced arterial blood pressure below 90 mm Hg (47.3%) or presented with a single measurement of fasting glucose below 50 mg/dL (10.7%), respectively. Statins were prescribed to 6.1% (12/196) of patients, and 75% of those prescriptions were regarded as futile.
Our data suggest that effective prescription of essential medications and withdrawal from futile medications should be actively reconciled for improvement of a patient's end-of-life care.
PMCID: PMC3804734  PMID: 24155681
Drug therapy; Medical futility; Neoplasms; Symptom
15.  Performance of the pediatric index of mortality 2 (PIM-2) in cardiac and mixed intensive care units in a tertiary children’s referral hospital in Italy 
BMC Pediatrics  2013;13:100.
Mortality rate of patients admitted to Intensive Care Units is a widely adopted outcome indicator. Because of large case-mix variability, comparisons of mortality rates must be adjusted for the severity of patient illness at admission. The Pediatric Index of Mortality 2 (PIM-2) has been widely adopted as a tool for adjusting mortality rate by patients’ case mix. The objective of this study was to assess the performance of PIM-2 in children admitted to intensive care units after cardiac surgery, other surgery, or for other reasons.
This was a prospective cohort study, conducted in a 607 inpatient-bed tertiary-care pediatric hospital in Italy, with three pediatric intensive care Units (PICUs) and one cardiac Unit (CICU). In 2009–11, all consecutive admissions to PICUs/CICU of children aged 0–16 years were included in the study. Discrimination and calibration measures were computed to assess PIM-2 performance. Multivariable logistic regression analysis was used to assess the association of patients’ main reason for intensive care admission (cardiac-surgical, other-surgical, medical), age, Unit and year with observed mortality, adjusting for PIM-2 score.
PIM-2 data collection was completed for 91.2% of total PICUs/CICU patient admissions (2912), and for 94.8% of patients who died in PICUs/CICU (129). Overall observed mortality was 4.4% (95% CI, 3.7-5.2), compared to 6.4% (95% CI, 5.5-7.3) expected mortality. Standardised mortality ratio was 0.7 (95% CI: 0.6-0.8). PIM-2 discrimination was fair (area under the curve, 0.79; 95% CI: 0.75-0.83). Calibration was less satisfactory, mainly because of the over two-fold overprediction of deaths in the highest risk group (114.7 vs 53; p < 0.001), and particularly in cardiac-surgical patients. Multivariable logistic analysis showed that risk of death was significantly reduced in cardiac-surgical patients and in those aged 1 month to 12 years, independently from PIM-2.
The children age distribution and the proportion of cardiac-surgical patients should be taken into account when interpreting SMRs estimated using the PIM-2 prediction model in different Units. A new calibration study of PIM-2 score might be needed, and more appropriate cardiac-focused risk-adjustment models should be developed. The role of age on risk of death needs to be further explored.
PMCID: PMC3695834  PMID: 23799966
Critical care; Risk adjustment; Mortality pediatric index of mortality; Cardiac surgery, Pediatrics; Quality indicators
16.  Prolonged extracorporeal membrane oxygenation therapy for severe acute respiratory distress syndrome in a child affected by rituximab-resistant autoimmune hemolytic anemia: a case report 
Autoimmune hemolytic anemia in children younger than 2 years of age is usually characterized by a severe course, with a mortality rate of approximately 10%. The prolonged immunosuppression following specific treatment may be associated with a high risk of developing severe infections. Recently, the use of monoclonal antibodies (rituximab) has allowed sustained remissions to be obtained in the majority of pediatric patients with refractory autoimmune hemolytic anemia.
Case presentation
We describe the case of an 8-month-old Caucasian girl affected by a severe form of autoimmune hemolytic anemia, which required continuous steroid treatment for 16 months. Thereafter, she received 4 weekly doses of rituximab (375 mg/m2/dose) associated with steroid therapy, which was then tapered over the subsequent 2 weeks. One month after the last dose of rrituximab, she presented with recurrence of severe hemolysis and received two more doses of rrituximab. The patient remained in clinical remission for 7 months, before presenting with a further relapse. An alternative heavy immunosuppressive therapy was administered combining cyclophosphamide 10 mg/kg/day for 10 days with methylprednisolone 40 mg/kg/day for 5 days, which was then tapered down over 3 weeks. While still on steroid therapy, the patient developed an interstitial pneumonia with Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome, which required immediate admission to the intensive care unit where extracorporeal membrane oxygenation therapy was administered continuously for 37 days. At 16-month follow-up, the patient is alive and in good clinical condition, with no organ dysfunction, free from any immunosuppressive treatment and with a normal Hb level.
This case shows that aggressive combined immunosuppressive therapy may lead to a sustained complete remission in children with refractory autoimmune hemolytic anemia. However, the severe life-threatening complication presented by our patient indicates that strict clinical monitoring must be vigilantly performed, that antimicrobial prophylaxis should always be considered and that experienced medical and nursing staff must be available, to deliver highly specialized supportive salvage therapies, if necessary, during intensive care monitoring.
PMCID: PMC2726476  PMID: 19830103
17.  Hypoalbuminemia in critically sick children 
There is a paucity of data evaluating serum albumin levels and outcome of critically ill-children admitted to intensive care unit (ICU).
The aim was to study frequency of hypoalbuminemia and examine association between hypoalbuminemia and outcome in critically ill-children.
Settings and Design:
Retrospective review of medical records of 435 patients admitted to 12 bedded pediatric ICU (PICU).
Materials and Methods:
Patients with hypoalbuminemia on admission or any time during PICU stay were compared with normoalbuminemic patients for demographic and clinical profile. Effect of albumin infusion was also examined. Odds ratio and 95% confidence interval were calculated using SPSS 16.
Hypoalbuminemia was present on admission in 21% (92 of 435) patients that increased to 34% at the end of 1st week and to 37% (164 of 435) during rest of the stay in PICU. Hypoalbuminemic patients had higher Pediatric Risk of Mortality scores (12.9 vs. 7.5, P < 0.001) and prolonged PICU stay (13.8 vs. 6.7 days, P < 0.001); higher likelihood of respiratory failure requiring mechanical ventilaton (84.8% vs. 28.8%, P < 0.001), prolonged ventilatory support, progression to multiorgan dysfunction syndrome (87.8% vs. 16.2%) and risk of mortality (25.6% vs. 17.7%). Though, the survivors among recipients of albumin infusion had significantly higher increase in serum albumin level (0.76 g/dL, standard deviation [SD] 0.54) compared with nonsurvivors (0.46 g/dL, SD 0.44; P = 0.016), albumin infusion did not reduce the risk of mortality.
Hypoalbuminemia is a significant indicator of mortality and morbidity in critically sick children. More studies are needed to define role of albumin infusion in treatment of such patients.
PMCID: PMC4166871  PMID: 25249740
Critically sick children; hypoalbuminemia; pediatric intensive care unit
18.  Trauma admissions to the Intensive care unit at a reference hospital in Northwestern Tanzania 
Major trauma has been reported to be a major cause of hospitalization and intensive care utilization worldwide and consumes a significant amount of the health care budget. The aim of this study was to describe the characteristics and treatment outcome of major trauma patients admitted into our ICU and to identify predictors of outcome.
Between January 2008 and December 2010, a descriptive prospective study of all trauma admissions to a multidisciplinary intensive care unit (ICU) of Bugando Medical Centre in Northwestern Tanzania was conducted.
A total of 312 cases of major trauma were admitted in the ICU, representing 37.1% of the total ICU admissions. Males outnumbered females by a ratio of 5.5:1. Their median age was 27 years. Trauma admissions were almost exclusively emergencies (95.2%) and came mainly from the Accident and Emergency (60.6%) and Operating room (23.4%). Road traffic crash (RTC) was the most common cause of injuries affecting 70.8% of patients. Two hundred fourteen patients (68.6%) required surgical intervention. The overall ICU length of stay (LOS) for all trauma patients ranged from 1 to 59 days (median = 8 days). The median ICU length of hospital stay (LOS) for survivors and non-survivors were 8 and 5 days respectively. (P = 0.002). Mortality rate was 32.7%. Mortality rate of trauma patients was significantly higher than that of all ICU admissions (32.7% vs. 18.8%, P = 0.0012). According to multivariate logistic regression analysis, multiple injuries, severe head injuries and burns were responsible for a longer mean ICU stay (P < 0.001) whereas admission Glasgow Coma Score < 9, systolic blood pressure < 90 mmHg, injury severity core >16, prolonged duration of loss of consciousness, delayed ICU admission (0.028), the need for ventilatory support and finding of space occupying lesion on computed tomography scan significantly influenced mortality (P < 0.001).
Trauma resulting from road traffic crashes is a leading cause of intensive care utilization in our hospital. Urgent preventive measures targeting at reducing the occurrence of RTCs is necessary to reduce ICU trauma admissions in this region. Improved pre- and in-hospital care of trauma victims will improve the outcome of trauma patients admitted to our ICU.
PMCID: PMC3214823  PMID: 22024353
Intensive care unit; trauma admissions; prevalence; injury characteristics; outcome; Tanzania
19.  Endotoxemia in pediatric critical illness - a pilot study 
Critical Care  2011;15(3):R141.
The aim was to investigate the prevalence of endotoxemia in children admitted to pediatric intensive care unit (PICU), and its association with disease severity and outcome.
We conducted a prospective, observational cohort study of children admitted to PICU at St. Mary's Hospital, London over a 6-month period. One hundred consecutive patients were recruited. Demographic and clinical data were collected. Severity of illness was assessed by the pediatric index of mortality 2 (PIM2) score. The pediatric logistic organ dysfunction (PELOD) score was performed daily for the first 4 days. Patients were categorized according to primary reason for PICU admission. Blood samples were taken within 24 hours of admission and endotoxemia was measured using the endotoxin activity assay (EAA). Patients were stratified according to EAA level (high, EAA > 0.4, low, EAA < 0.4) and categorized as septic, post-surgical, respiratory or other. Data were analyzed using appropriate non-parametric tests.
EAA level was significantly lower in PICU controls versus other PICU admissions (P = 0.01). Fifty-five children had endotoxemia on admission. Forty-one (75%) of these were eventually diagnosed with an infectious cause of admission. Nine children without infection had elevated EAA on admission. An infectious cause of admission was significantly associated with endotoxemia (P < 0.005). Of 15 children with gram-negative infection, only 9 (60%) had endotoxemia on admission. Endotoxemia on admission was not associated with shock or death. However, there was a tendency for increased PELOD score and length of stay in endotoxemic children.
Endotoxemia is common in children admitted to intensive care. Understanding the implications of endotoxemia and potential anti-endotoxin strategies may have the potential to reduce severity of illness and length of PICU stay in critically ill children.
PMCID: PMC3219013  PMID: 21651808
20.  An audit of intensive care unit admission in a pediatric cardio-thoracic population in Enugu, Nigeria 
Introduction: The study aimed to perform an audit of intensive care unit admissions in the paediatric cardio-thoracic population in Enugu, Nigeria and examine the challenges and outcome in this high risk group. Ways of improvement based on this study are suggested. Methods: The hospital records of consecutive postoperative pediatric cardiothoracic admissions to the multidisciplinary and cardiothoracic intensive care units of the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital (UNTH) Enugu, Nigeria to determine their Intensive Care Unit management and outcome over a 2 year span -June 2002 to June 2004 were retrospectively reviewed. Data collected included patient demographics, diagnosis, duration of stay in the intensive care unit, therapeutic interventions and outcome. Results: There were a total of thirty consecutive postoperative paediatric admissions to the intensive care unit over the 2 year study period. The average age of the patients was 5.1 years with a range of 2 weeks to 13 years. Twelve patients had cardiac surgery with cardiopulmonary bypass (CPB), three patients had colon transplant, four patients had pericardiotomy/pericardicectomy, and five patients had diagnostic/therapeutic bronchoscopy. The remaining patients had the following surgeries, thoracotomy for repair of diaphragmatic hernia/decortications, delayed primary repair of esophageal atresia and gastrostomy. Two patients had excision of a cervical teratoma and cystic hygroma. The average duration of stay in the intensive care unit was 6.2 days. Ten patients (33%) received pressor agents for organ support. Five patients (17%) had mechanical ventilation, while twenty-five patients (83%) received oxygen therapy via intranasal cannula or endotracheal tube. Seven patients (23%) received blood transfusion in the ICU. There was a 66% survival rate with ten deaths. Conclusion: Paediatric cardio-thoracic services in Nigeria suffer from the problems of inadequate funding and manpower flight to better paying jobs. Government should invest in their people by introducing insurance schemes for cardiac patients. Training programmes for members of cardio-thoracic units in countries with advanced health care systems and hands on experience should be encouraged. Otherwise for a majority of children with heart disease, it will be a slow painful wait for the inevitable.
PMCID: PMC3063494  PMID: 21436953
Audit; cardio-thoracic surgery; intensive care unit; anaesthesia; developing country,; Nigeria
21.  Management of children in the deployed intensive care unit at Camp Bastion, Afghanistan 
The deployed Intensive Therapy Unit (ITU) in the British military field hospital in Camp Bastion, Afghanistan, admits both adults and children. The purpose of this paper is to review the paediatric workload in the deployed ITU and to describe how the unit copes with the challenge of looking after critically injured and ill children.
Retrospective review of patients <16 years of age admitted to the ITU in the British military field hospital in Camp Bastion, Afghanistan, over a 1-year period from April 2011 to April 2012.
112/811 (14%) admissions to the ITU were paediatric (median age 8 years, IQR 6–12, range 1–16). 80/112 were trauma admissions, 13 were burns, four were non-trauma admissions and 15 were readmissions. Mechanism of injury in trauma was blunt in 12, blast (improvised explosive device) in 45, blast (indirect fire) in seven and gunshot wound in 16. Median length of stay was 0.92 days (IQR 0.45–2.65). 82/112 admissions (73%) were mechanically ventilated, 16/112 (14%) required inotropic support. 12/112 (11%) died before unit discharge. Trauma scoring was available in 65 of the 80 trauma admissions. Eight had Injury Severity Score or New Injury Severity Score >60, none of whom survived. However, of the 16 patients with predicted mortality >50% by Trauma Injury Severity Score, seven survived. Seven cases required specialist advice and were discussed with the Birmingham Children's Hospital paediatric intensive care retrieval service. The mechanisms by which the Defence Medical Services support children admitted to the deployed adult ITU are described, including staff training in clinical, ethical and child protection issues, equipment, guidelines and clinical governance and rapid access to specialist advice in the UK.
With appropriate support, it is possible to provide intensive care to children in a deployed military ITU.
PMCID: PMC4154587  PMID: 24307254
Trauma Management
22.  Oral Ondansetron Administration in Emergency Departments to Children with Gastroenteritis: An Economic Analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2010;7(10):e1000350.
Stephen Freedman and colleagues performed a cost analysis of the routine administration of ondansetron in both the United States and Canada and show that its routine administration to eligible children in such settings could provide substantial benefit.
The use of antiemetics for children with vomiting is one of the most controversial decisions in the treatment of gastroenteritis in developed countries. Ondansetron, a selective serotonin receptor antagonist, has been found to be effective in improving the success of oral rehydration therapy. However, North American and European clinical practice guidelines continue to recommend against its use, stating that evidence of cost savings would be required to support ondansetron administration. Thus, an economic analysis of the emergency department administration of ondansetron was conducted. The primary objective was to conduct a cost analysis of the routine administration of ondansetron in both the United States and Canada.
Methods and Findings
A cost analysis evaluated oral ondansetron administration to children presenting to emergency departments with vomiting and dehydration secondary to gastroenteritis from a societal and health care payer's perspective in both the US and Canada. A decision tree was developed that incorporated the frequency of vomiting, intravenous insertion, hospitalization, and emergency department revisits. Estimates of the monetary costs associated with ondansetron use, intravenous rehydration, and hospitalization were derived from administrative databases or emergency department use. The economic burden in children administered ondansetron plus oral rehydration therapy was compared to those not administered ondansetron employing deterministic and probabilistic simulations. We estimated the costs or savings to society and health care payers associated with the routine administration of ondansetron. Sensitivity analyses considered variations in costs, treatment effects, and exchange rates. In the US the administration of ondansetron to eligible children would prevent approximately 29,246 intravenous insertions and 7,220 hospitalizations annually. At the current average wholesale price, its routine administration to eligible children would annually save society US$65.6 million (US$49.1–US$81.1) and health care payers US$61.1 million (US$46.2–US$76.3). In Canada the administration of ondansetron to eligible children would prevent 4,065 intravenous insertions and 1,003 hospitalizations annually. Its routine administration would annually save society CDN$1.72 million (CDN$1.15–CDN$1.89) and the health care system CDN$1.18 million (CDN$0.88–CDN$1.41).
In countries where intravenous rehydration is often employed, the emergency department administration of oral ondansetron to children with dehydration and vomiting secondary to gastroenteritis results in significant monetary savings compared to a no-ondansetron policy.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Although many episodes of gastroenteritis in children are mild and can be managed with oral fluids, including oral rehydration therapy (ORT), some cases are severe enough to require hospital admission for intravenous fluids. Administration of an antiemetic (a drug that reduces nausea and sickness) can be clinically effective, especially ondansetron, (a drug that belongs to a class of drugs known as selective serotonin receptor antagonists), which is safer than other antiemetics, such as promethazine and prochlorperazine, and in which there is good evidence to support its effectiveness in improving the success of ORT in children with gastroenteritis. Furthermore, studies have shown that administration of ondansetron decreases the risk of further vomiting, and hence the need for intravenous rehydration, and immediate hospital admission. However, despite the proven clinical benefits of ondansetron, clinical practice guidelines continue to recommend against the use of antiemetics in gastroenteritis because the evidence of cost savings is not yet clear. Last year, the UK's National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence recommended that such a cost analysis should be a key research priority in pediatric gastroenteritis.
Why Was This Study Done?
This study—which is an economic analysis—was conducted in response to the various calls for the need to demonstrate the cost effectiveness of ondansetron in the management of pediatric gastroenteritis.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers analysed the costs of the administration of oral ondansetron in both the US and Canada, if routinely given to children with gastroenteritis-induced vomiting and dehydration in the emergency department setting. In addition, the researchers calculated the incremental cost of ondansetron per quality-adjusted life-year (QALY) gained from a health care perspective, compared to a regimen without ondansetron administration. The authors conducted a particular type of statistical analysis, known as decision tree analysis, to compare the two treatment options—administering ondansetron and not administering ondansetron in addition to ORT, with the clinical outcomes (further vomiting, intravenous rehydration, and hospitalization) determined on the basis of the documented efficacy of ondansetron. In addition, the researchers conducted their analyses from both the societal perspective (which included all costs, both direct—the resources required to produce a service; and indirect—productivity costs) and the health care payer's perspective. The US and Canada use similar medical resources, management programs, and treatment guidelines, but as prices differ dramatically (for example, the cost of hospitalization in the US is 8-fold higher than that in Canada), the researchers conducted a separate analysis for each country.
On the basis of data from the US, the researchers found that the administration of ondansetron to eligible children would prevent approximately 29,246 intravenous insertions and 7,220 hospitalizations every year with an annual saving of US$65.6 million to society and US$61.1 million to payers of health care costs if this drug was given routinely. When using Canadian data, the researchers found that the administration of ondansetron to eligible children would prevent 4,065 intravenous insertions and 1,003 hospitalizations every year, with an annual saving of CDN$1.72 million to society and CDN$1.18 million to payers of health care costs if this drug was given routinely.
What Do These Findings Mean?
The results of this study show that the emergency department administration of oral ondansetron to children with dehydration and vomiting secondary to gastroenteritis results in significant monetary savings from both societal and health care perspectives compared to a policy that does not include ondansetron administration. Furthermore, the societal savings are probably an underestimate because in their model, the researchers assumed that only 10% of children with gastroenteritis presenting to an emergency department would meet eligibility criteria (in reality, this proportion would likely be higher). In addition, the researchers did not include estimates for ondansetron administration in the clinic or private office setting, as although such use is common, no estimates of eligibility and efficacy were available.
Therefore, in addition to being clinically beneficial, the administration of oral ondansetron to children with dehydration and vomiting secondary to gastroenteritis is also economically advantageous.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
Patient UK and the US National Institutes of Health provide information for patients on ondansetron
Patient UK provides information on gastroenteritis in children
BBC Health also provides general information on gastroenteritis
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention contains a report on managing acute gastroenteritis among children
PMCID: PMC2953527  PMID: 20967234
23.  Effectiveness of predicting in-hospital mortality in critically ill children by assessing blood lactate levels at admission 
BMC Pediatrics  2014;14:83.
Hyperlactatemia upon admission is a documented risk factor for mortality in critically ill adult patients. However, the predictive significance of a single lactate measurement at admission for mortality in the general population of critically ill children remains uncertain. This study evaluated the predictive value of blood lactate levels at admission and determined the cut-off values for predicting in-hospital mortality in the critically ill pediatric population.
We enrolled 1109 critically ill children who were admitted to a pediatric intensive care unit between July 2008 and December 2010. Arterial blood samples were collected in the first 2 hours after admission, and the lactate levels were determined. The Pediatric Risk of Mortality III (PRISM III) scores were calculated during the first 24 hours after admission.
Of the 1109 children admitted, 115 (10.4%) died in the hospital. The median (interquartile range) blood lactate level in critically ill children was 3.2 mmol/l (2.2-4.8). Among the children, 859 (77.5%) had a lactate concentration >2.0 mmol/l. The blood lactate level upon admission was significantly associated with mortality (odds ratio [OR] = 1.38; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.30-1.46; p <0.001), even after adjustment for age, gender, and illness severity assessed by PRISM III (OR = 1.27; p <0.001). Multivariate regression analysis showed that a high blood lactate level (OR = 1.17; 95% CI, 1.07-1.29; p = 0.001), a high PRISM III score (OR = 1.15; 95% CI, 1.11-1.20; p <0.001), and a low serum albumin (OR =0.92; 95% CI, 0.88-0.96; p <0.001) were independent risk factors for mortality in critically ill children. Blood lactate achieved an area under-the-receiver-operating-characteristic curve (AUC) of 0.79 (p <0.001) for predicting mortality that was similar to that of PRISM III (AUC = 0.82; p <0.001). The p-value for a comparison of both AUCs was 0.318. Blood lactate displayed a sensitivity of 61% and a specificity of 86% in predicting mortality at the optimal cut-off value of 5.55 mmol/l, and the positive and negative likelihood ratios were 4.5 and 0.45, respectively.
A high blood lactate level at admission is independently associated with and predictive of in-hospital mortality in the general population of critically ill children.
PMCID: PMC3976355  PMID: 24673817
Blood lactate; Critically ill children; Cut-off value; In-hospital mortality; Pediatric risk of mortality III (PRISM III); Predictive test
24.  Optimizing triage and hospitalization in adult general medical emergency patients: the triage project 
Patients presenting to the emergency department (ED) currently face inacceptable delays in initial treatment, and long, costly hospital stays due to suboptimal initial triage and site-of-care decisions. Accurate ED triage should focus not only on initial treatment priority, but also on prediction of medical risk and nursing needs to improve site-of-care decisions and to simplify early discharge management. Different triage scores have been proposed, such as the Manchester triage system (MTS). Yet, these scores focus only on treatment priority, have suboptimal performance and lack validation in the Swiss health care system. Because the MTS will be introduced into clinical routine at the Kantonsspital Aarau, we propose a large prospective cohort study to optimize initial patient triage. Specifically, the aim of this trial is to derive a three-part triage algorithm to better predict (a) treatment priority; (b) medical risk and thus need for in-hospital treatment; (c) post-acute care needs of patients at the most proximal time point of ED admission.
Prospective, observational, multicenter, multi-national cohort study. We will include all consecutive medical patients seeking ED care into this observational registry. There will be no exclusions except for non-adult and non-medical patients. Vital signs will be recorded and left over blood samples will be stored for later batch analysis of blood markers. Upon ED admission, the post-acute care discharge score (PACD) will be recorded. Attending ED physicians will adjudicate triage priority based on all available results at the time of ED discharge to the medical ward. Patients will be reassessed daily during the hospital course for medical stability and readiness for discharge from the nurses and if involved social workers perspective. To assess outcomes, data from electronic medical records will be used and all patients will be contacted 30 days after hospital admission to assess vital and functional status, re-hospitalization, satisfaction with care and quality of life measures.
We aim to include between 5000 and 7000 patients over one year of recruitment to derive the three-part triage algorithm. The respective main endpoints were defined as (a) initial triage priority (high vs. low priority) adjudicated by the attending ED physician at ED discharge, (b) adverse 30 day outcome (death or intensive care unit admission) within 30 days following ED admission to assess patients risk and thus need for in-hospital treatment and (c) post acute care needs after hospital discharge, defined as transfer of patients to a post-acute care institution, for early recognition and planning of post-acute care needs. Other outcomes are time to first physician contact, time to initiation of adequate medical therapy, time to social worker involvement, length of hospital stay, reasons for discharge delays, patient’s satisfaction with care, overall hospital costs and patients care needs after returning home.
Using a reliable initial triage system for estimating initial treatment priority, need for in-hospital treatment and post-acute care needs is an innovative and persuasive approach for a more targeted and efficient management of medical patients in the ED. The proposed interdisciplinary , multi-national project has unprecedented potential to improve initial triage decisions and optimize resource allocation to the sickest patients from admission to discharge. The algorithms derived in this study will be compared in a later randomized controlled trial against a usual care control group in terms of resource use, length of hospital stay, overall costs and patient’s outcomes in terms of mortality, re-hospitalization, quality of life and satisfaction with care.
Trial registration Identifier, NCT01768494
PMCID: PMC3723418  PMID: 23822525
Triage; Biomarker; Post-acute care needs; Emergency medicine; Manchester triage system
25.  Extracorporeal life support for status asthmaticus: the breath of life that's often forgotten 
Critical Care  2009;13(2):136.
Status asthmaticus continues to be significant cause of intensive care admission, morbidity, and mortality in pediatric populations. Furthermore, despite improved outpatient management and broader use of controller medications, patients with severe status asthmaticus account for a notable proportion of these admissions. There is variability in management and outcomes between institutions; however, early and aggressive management to avoid respiratory failure is paramount. In those patients who progress to develop severe respiratory failure, extracorporeal life support (ECLS) can be a life-saving therapy. Here, we briefly overview the use of ECLS for status asthmaticus, as reported through the Extracorporeal Life Support Organization, including the specific institutional experience at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston, and consider how earlier initiation of ECLS may benefit patients with severe status asthmaticus refractory to conventional medical therapy.
PMCID: PMC2689481  PMID: 19439044

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