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1.  Prevalence of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal populations: A systematic review and meta-analysis of epidemiological studies 
Asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) have considerable potential for inequities in diagnosis and treatment, thereby affecting vulnerable groups.
To evaluate differences in asthma and COPD prevalence between adult Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal populations.
MEDLINE, EMBASE, specialized databases and the grey literature up to October 2011 were searched to identify epidemiological studies comparing asthma and COPD prevalence between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal adult populations. Prevalence ORs (PORs) and 95% CIs were calculated in a random-effects meta-analysis.
Of 132 studies, eight contained relevant data. Aboriginal populations included Native Americans, Canadian Aboriginals, Australian Aboriginals and New Zealand Maori. Overall, Aboriginals were more likely to report having asthma than non-Aboriginals (POR 1.41 [95% CI 1.23 to 1.60]), particularly among Canadian Aboriginals (POR 1.80 [95% CI 1.68 to 1.93]), Native Americans (POR 1.41 [95% CI 1.13 to 1.76]) and Maori (POR 1.64 [95% CI 1.40 to 1.91]). Australian Aboriginals were less likely to report asthma (POR 0.49 [95% CI 0.28 to 0.86]). Sex differences in asthma prevalence between Aboriginals and their non-Aboriginal counterparts were not identified. One study compared COPD prevalence between Native and non-Native Americans, with similar rates in both groups (POR 1.08 [95% CI 0.81 to 1.44]).
Differences in asthma prevalence between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal populations exist in a variety of countries. Studies comparing COPD prevalence between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal populations are scarce. Further investigation is needed to identify and account for factors associated with respiratory health inequalities among Aboriginal peoples.
PMCID: PMC3603759  PMID: 23248798
Aboriginal; Asthma; Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; Epidemiology; Prevalence; Systematic review
2.  The nature and influence of pharmaceutical industry involvement in asthma trials 
Pharmaceutical industry-sponsored research has been shown to be biased toward reporting positive results. Frequent industry participation in trials assessing the efficacy of inhaled corticosteroid (ICS) and long-acting beta2-agonist (LABA) combination treatment makes assessing industry influence difficult and warrants an assessment of specific potential publication bias in this area.
To describe the frequency of industry involvement in ICS/LABA trials and explore associations among significant outcomes, type of industry involvement and type of primary outcome.
A systematic review of trials comparing ICS/LABA combination therapy with ICS monotherapy for asthma was conducted. Data concerning the type of industry sponsorship, primary outcome and statistical results were collected. Comparisons between type of sponsorship and significant results were analyzed using Pearson’s χ2 test and relative risk.
Of 91 included studies (median year of publication 2005 [interquartile range 1994 to 2008]), 86 (95%) reported pharmaceutical involvement. Author affiliation was reported in 49 of 86 (57%), and 19 of 86 (22%) were industry-reported trials without full publications. The remainder were published journal articles. Studies with a first or senior author affiliated with industry were 1.5 times more likely to report statistically significant results for the primary outcome compared with studies with other types of industry involvement. Pulmonary measures were 1.5 times more likely to be statistically significant than were measures of asthma control.
The potential biases identified were consistent with other research focused on author role and industry involvement, and suggest that degree of bias may vary with type of affiliation.
PMCID: PMC3411392  PMID: 22891187
Asthma; Bias; Evidence-based medicine; Inhaled corticosteroids; Systematic review
3.  The use of early immobilization in the management of acute soft-tissue injuries of the knee: results of a survey of emergency physicians, sports medicine physicians and orthopedic surgeons 
Canadian Journal of Surgery  2015;58(1):48-53.
Evidence-based guidelines on the use of immobilization in the management of common acute soft-tissue knee injuries do not exist. Our objective was to explore the practice patterns of emergency physicians (EPs), sports medicine physicians (SMPs) and orthopedic surgeons (OS) regarding the use of early immobilization in the management of these injuries.
We developed a web-based survey and sent it to all EPs, SMPs and OS in a Canadian urban centre. The survey was designed to assess the likelihood of prescribing immobilization and to evaluate factors associated with physicians from these 3 disciplines making this decision.
The overall response rate was 44 of 112 (39%): 17 of 58 (29%) EPs, 7 of 15 (47%) SMPs and 20 of 39 (51%) OS. In cases of suspected meniscus injuries, 9 (50%) EPs indicated they would prescribe immobilization, whereas no SMPs and 1 (5%) OS would immobilize (p = 0.002). For suspected anterior cruciate ligament injuries, 13 (77%) EPs, 2 (29%) SMPs and 5 (25%) OS said they would immobilize (p = 0.005). For lateral collateral ligament injuries, 9 (53%) EPs, no SMPs and 6 (32%) OS would immobilize (p = 0.04). All respondents would prescribe immobilization for a grossly unstable knee.
We found that EPs were are more likely to prescribe immobilization for certain acute soft-tissue knee injuries than SMPs and OS. The development of an evidenced-based guideline for the use of knee immobilization after acute soft-tissue injury may reduce practice variability.
PMCID: PMC4309764  PMID: 25621910
4.  Admissions to Canadian hospitals for acute asthma: A prospective, multicentre study 
Asthma exacerbations constitute one of the most common causes of emergency department (ED) attendance in most developed countries. While severe asthma often requires hospitalization, variability in admission practices has been observed.
To describe the factors associated with admission to Canadian hospitals for acute asthma after ED treatment.
Subjects 18 to 55 years of age treated for acute asthma in 20 Canadian EDs prospectively underwent a structured ED interview (n=695) and telephone interview two weeks later.
The median age of the patients was 30 years, and the majority were women (62.8%). The admission rate was 13.1% (95% CI 10.7% to 15.8%). Admitted patients were older, more often receiving oral or inhaled corticosteroids at presentation, and more frequently receiving systemic corticosteroids and magnesium sulphate in the ED. Similar proportions received beta-2 agonists and/or ipratropium bromide within 1 h of arrival. On multivariable analyses, factors associated with admission included age, previous admission in the past two years, more than eight beta-2 agonist puffs in the past 24 h, a Canadian Triage and Acuity Score of 1 to 2, a respiratory rate of greater than 22 breaths/min and an oxygen saturation of less than 95%.
The admission rate for acute asthma from these Canadian EDs was lower than reported in other North American studies. The present study provides insight into practical factors associated with admission for acute asthma and highlights the importance of history and asthma severity markers on ED decision making. Further efforts to standardize ED management and expedite admission decision-making appear warranted.
PMCID: PMC2866213  PMID: 20186368
Admissions; Asthma; Emergency department; Exacerbations; Severity
5.  Recent self-harm and psychological measures in the emergency department 
PeerJ  2014;2:e667.
The assessment of self-harm risk is a common, difficult, and perplexing task for many physicians, especially those working in emergency departments (ED). Attempts have been made to determine objective methods for assessing patients with suicidal ideation or self-harm though there is still a lack of knowledge about objective assessments of these patients. A study was conducted where 181 suicidal patients were enrolled in two EDs within the city of Edmonton, Canada. Initial interviews were conducted in the ED which collected basic demographics and medical history as well as psychometric measures including the Beck Hopelessness Scale, Barratt Impulsiveness Scale, Brief Symptom Inventory, Drug Abuse Screening Test 10, and CAGE questionnaire. The results of these measures were compared between those who presented to the ED with self-harm and those who presented only with ideation. Those with recent self-harm scored lower on many of the scales and subscales of distress and impulsivity measured compared to those with no recent self-harm. Possible explanations for this difference include differences in psychological traits between the two groups and possible cathartic effects of self-harm. The lower scores obtained by those that present with self-harm may complicate attempts to use psychometric tools to determine future self-harm risk.
PMCID: PMC4230549  PMID: 25401056
Risk assessment; Emergency medicine; Self-injurious behaviors; Psychiatry
6.  Comparison of Canadian versus United States emergency department visits for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease exacerbation 
Despite the frequency of emergency department (ED) visits for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) exacerbation, little is known about practice variation in EDs.
To examine the differences between Canadian and United States (US) COPD patients, and the ED management they receive.
A prospective multicentre cohort study was conducted involving 29 EDs in the US and Canada. Using a standard protocol, consecutive ED patients with COPD exacerbations were interviewed, their charts reviewed and a two-week telephone follow-up completed. Comparisons between Canadian and US patients, as well as their treatment and outcomes, were made. Predictors of antibiotic use were determined by multivariate logistic regression.
Of 584 patients who had physician-diagnosed COPD, 397 (68%) were enrolled. Of these, 63 patients (16%) were from Canada. Canadians were older (73 years versus 69 years; P=0.002), more often white (97% versus 65%; P<0.001), less educated (P=0.003) and more commonly insured (P<0.001) than the US patients. US patients more commonly used the ED for their usual COPD medications (17% versus 3%; P=0.005). Although Canadian patients had fewer pack-years of smoking (45 pack-years versus 53 pack-years; P=0.001), current COPD medications and comorbidities were similar. At ED presentation, Canadian patients were more often hypoxic and symptomatic. ED treatment with inhaled beta-agonists (approximately 90%) and systemic corticosteroids (approximately 65%) were similar; Canadians received more antibiotics (46% versus 25%; P<0.001) and other treatments (29% versus 11%; P=0.002). Admission rates were similar in both countries (approximately 65%), although Canadian patients remained in the ED longer than the US patients (10 h versus 5 h, respectively; P<0.001).
Overall, patients with acute COPD in Canada and the US appear to have similar history, ED treatment and outcomes; however, Canadian patients are older and receive more aggressive treatment in the ED. In both countries, the prolonged length of stay and high admission rate contribute to the ED overcrowding crisis facing EDs.
PMCID: PMC2679560  PMID: 18818783
Canada-USA; Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; Emergency department; Exacerbation
7.  Primary care professionals providing non-urgent care in hospital emergency departments 
In many countries emergency departments (EDs) are facing an increase in demand for services, long-waits and severe crowding. One response to mitigate overcrowding has been to provide primary care services alongside or within hospital EDs for patients with non-urgent problems. It is not known, however, how this impacts the quality of patient care, the utilisation of hospital resources, or if it is cost-effective.
To assess the effects of locating primary care professionals in the hospital ED to provide care for patients with non-urgent health problems, compared with care provided by regular Emergency Physicians (EPs),
Search methods
We searched the Cochrane Effective Practice and Organisation of Care (EPOC) Group Specialized register; Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (The Cochrane library, 2011, Issue 4), MEDLINE (1950 to March 21 2012); EMBASE (1980 to April 28 2011); CINAHL (1980 to April 28 2011); PsychINFO (1967 to April 28 2011); Sociological Abstracts (1952 to April 28 2011); ASSIA (1987 to April 28 2011); SSSCI (1945 to April 28 2011); HMIC (1979 to April 28 2011), sources of unpublished literature, reference lists of included papers and relevant systematic reviews. We contacted experts in the field for any published or unpublished studies, and hand searched ED conference abstracts from the last three years.
Selection criteria
Randomised controlled trials, non-randomised studies, controlled before and after studies and interrupted time series studies that evaluated the effectiveness of introducing primary care professionals to hospital EDs to attend to non-urgent patients, as compared to the care provided by regular EPs.
Data collection and analysis
Two reviewers independently extracted data and assessed the risk of bias for each included study. We contacted authors of included studies to obtain additional data. Dichotomous outcomes are presented as risk ratios (RR) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) and continuous outcomes are presented as mean differences (MD) with 95% CIs. Pooling was not possible due to heterogeneity.
Main results
Three non randomised controlled studies involving a total of 11 203 patients, 16 General Practioners (GPs), and 52 EPs, were included. These studies evaluated the effects of introducing GPs to provide care to patients with non-urgent problems in the ED, as compared to EPs for outcomes such as resource use. The quality of evidence for all outcomes in this review was low, primarily due to the non-randomised design of included studies.
The outcomes investigated were similar across studies; however there was high heterogeneity (I2>86%). Differences across studies included the triage system used, the level of expertise and experience of the medical practitioners and type of hospital (urban teaching, suburban community hospital).
Two of the included studies report that GPs used significantly fewer healthcare resources than EPs, with fewer blood tests (RR 0.22; 95%CI: 0.14 to 0.33; N=4641; RR 0.35; 95%CI 0.29 to 0.42; N=4684), x-rays (RR 0.47; 95% CI 0.41 to 0.54; N=4641; RR 0.77 95% CI 0.72 to 0.83; N=4684), admissions to hospital (RR 0.33; 95% CI 0.19 to 0.58; N=4641; RR 0.45; 95% CI 0.36 to 0.56; N=4684) and referrals to specialists (RR 0.50; 95% CI 0.39 to 0.63; N=4641; RR 0.66; 95% CI 0.60 to 0.73; N=4684). One of the two studies reported no statistically significant difference in the number of prescriptions made by GPs compared with EPs, (RR 0.95 95% CI 0.88 to 1.03; N=4641), while the other showed that GPs prescribed significantly more medications than EPs (RR 1.45 95% CI 1.35 to 1.56; N=4684). The results from these two studies showed marginal cost savings from introducing GPs in hospital EDs.
The third study (N=1878) failed to identify a significant difference in the number of blood tests ordered (RR 0.96; 95% CI 0.76 to 1.2), x-rays (RR 1.07; 95%CI 0.99 to 1.15), or admissions to hospital (RR 1.11; 95% CI 0.70 to 1.76), but reported a significantly greater number of referrals to specialists (RR 1.21; 95% CI 1.09 to 1.33) and prescriptions (RR 1.12; 95% CI 1.01 to 1.23) made by GPs as compared with EPs.
No data were reported on patient wait-times, length of hospital stay, or patient outcomes, including adverse effects or mortality.
Authors’ conclusions
Overall, the evidence from the three included studies is weak, as results are disparate and neither safety nor patient outcomes have been examined. There is insufficient evidence upon which to draw conclusions for practice or policy regarding the effectiveness and safety of care provided to non-urgent patients by GPs versus EPs in the ED to mitigate problems of overcrowding, wait-times and patient flow.
PMCID: PMC4164956  PMID: 23152213
Crowding; Emergencies [classification]; Emergency Medicine [organization & administration; statistics & numerical data]; Emergency Service, Hospital [*organization & administration; statistics & numerical data]; General Practice [*organization & administration; statistics & numerical data]; Hematologic Tests [utilization]; Hospitalization [statistics & numerical data]; Physician’s Practice Patterns [statistics & numerical data]; Primary Health Care [*organization & administration; statistics & numerical data]; Radiography [utilization]; Referral and Consultation [utilization]; Triage; Humans
8.  Increasing the use of anti-inflammatory agents for acute asthma in the emergency department: Experience with an asthma care map 
Acute asthma is a common emergency department (ED) presentation and variation in its management is well recognized. The present study examined the use of an asthma care map (ACM) in one Canadian ED to improve adherence to acute asthma guidelines, emphasizing the use of systemic corticosteroids (SCSs) and inhaled corticosteroids (ICSs).
Three time periods were studied: the 15 months before ACM introduction (PRE), the 15 months following a three-month introduction of the ACM (POST1) and the 18 months after POST1 (POST2). Randomly selected patient charts from each period were included from patients who were 18 to 60 years of age and presented with a primary diagnosis of acute asthma. A priori criteria were established to determine the degree of completion and success of the ACM. Primary outcomes included documentation, use of SCSs in the ED, and prescription of SCSs and ICSs at ED discharge.
A total of 387 patient charts were included (PRE, n=150; POST1, n=150; POST2, n=87). Patient characteristics in the three groups were similar; however, patients in POST1 and POST2 showed higher use of newer agents than those in the PRE group. Overall, more women (n=209; 54%) than men were seen; the mean age was 32.4 years. The care map was used in 67% of cases during POST1 and 70% during POST2. The use of peak expiratory flow (PEF) was high during the PRE, POST1 and POST2 periods (91%, 89% and 91%, respectively); however, documentation of other markers of severity increased in the POST periods. Use of SCSs occurred earlier (P<0.01) and more often (57% PRE, 68% POST1 and 75% POST2; P<0.01) in the POST1,2 periods than the PRE period. There was a significant increase in use of SCSs on discharge (55% PRE, 66% POST1 and 69% POST2; P<0.05), and prescription of ICSs significantly increased (24% PRE, 45% POST1 and 61% POST2; P<0.001) in the POST1,2 periods. Discharge with-out any corticosteroids decreased over the three periods (32% PRE, 21% POST1 and 17% POST2; P<0.05). The length of stay in the ED increased over the study periods (181 min PRE, 209 min POST1 and 265 min POST2; P<0.01) and admissions were infrequent (9% PRE, 13% POST1 and 6% POST2; P=0.50).
The present study provides evidence that the standardized ED ACM was widely accepted, improved chart documentation, improved some aspects of ED care and increased prescribing of discharge preventive medications.
PMCID: PMC2677851  PMID: 18292849
Asthma; Corticosteroids; Guidelines; Prevention
9.  Comparison of Canadian versus American emergency department visits for acute asthma 
Acute asthma is a common emergency department (ED) presentation in both Canada and the United States.
To compare ED asthma management and outcomes between Canada and the United States.
A prospective cohort study of 69 American and eight Canadian EDs was conducted. Patients aged two to 54 years who presented with acute asthma underwent a structured ED interview and telephone follow-up two weeks later.
A total of 3031 patients were enrolled. Canadian patients were more likely to be white (89% versus 22%; P<0.001), have health insurance (100% versus 69%; P<0.001) and identify a primary care provider (89% versus 64%; P<0.001) than American patients. In addition, Canadian patients were more likely to be using inhaled corticosteroids (63% versus 44%; P<0.001) and had higher initial peak expiratory flow (61% versus 48%; P<0.001). In the ED, Canadians received fewer beta-agonist (one versus two; P<0.001) and more anticholinergic (two versus one; P<0.001) treatments in the first hour; use of systemic corticosteroids was similar (60% versus 68%; P=0.13). Canadians were less likely to be hospitalized (11% versus 21%; P=0.02). Corticosteroids were prescribed similarly at discharge (60% versus 69%; P=0.13); however, Canadians were discharged more commonly on inhaled corticosteroids (63% versus 11%; P<0.001) and relapses were similar.
Canadian patients with acute asthma have fewer barriers to primary care and are more likely to be on preventive medications, both before the ED visit and following discharge. Admissions rates are higher in the United States; however, relapse after discharge is similar between countries. These findings highlight the influences of preventive practices and heath care systems on ED visits for asthma.
PMCID: PMC2676405  PMID: 17885692
Admission; Asthma; Emergency department; Practice variation; Relapse
10.  Clinical characteristics associated with adverse events in patients with exacerbation of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: a prospective cohort study 
To assist physicians with difficult decisions about hospital admission for patients with acute exacerbation of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) presenting in the emergency department, we sought to identify clinical characteristics associated with serious adverse events.
We conducted this prospective cohort study in 6 large Canadian academic emergency departments. Patients were assessed for standardized clinical variables and then followed for serious adverse events, defined as death, intubation, admission to a monitored unit or new visit to the emergency department requiring admission.
We enrolled 945 patients, of whom 354 (37.5%) were admitted to hospital. Of 74 (7.8%) patients with a subsequent serious adverse event, 36 (49%) had not been admitted after the initial emergency visit. Multivariable modelling identified 5 variables that were independently associated with adverse events: prior intubation, initial heart rate ≥ 110/minute, being too ill to do a walk test, hemoglobin < 100 g/L and urea ≥ 12 mmol/L. A preliminary risk scale incorporating these and 5 other clinical variables produced risk categories ranging from 2.2% for a score of 0 to 91.4% for a score of 10. Using a risk score of 2 or higher as a threshold for admission would capture all patients with a predicted risk of adverse events of 7.2% or higher, while only slightly increasing admission rates, from 37.5% to 43.2%.
In Canada, many patients with COPD suffer a serious adverse event or death after being discharged home from the emergency department. We identified high-risk characteristics and developed a preliminary risk scale that, once validated, could be used to stratify the likelihood of poor outcomes and to enable rational and safe admission decisions.
PMCID: PMC3971051  PMID: 24549125
11.  Risk stratification of adult emergency department syncope patients to predict short-term serious outcomes after discharge (RiSEDS) study 
While Canadian ED physicians discharge most syncope patients with no specific further follow-up, approximately 5% will suffer serious outcomes after ED discharge. The goal of this study is to prospectively identify risk factors and to derive a clinical decision tool to accurately predict those at risk for serious outcomes after ED discharge within 30 days.
We will conduct a prospective cohort study at 6 Canadian EDs to include adults with syncope and exclude patients with loss of consciousness > 5 minutes, mental status changes from baseline, obvious witnessed seizure, or head trauma prior to syncope. Emergency physicians will collect standardized clinical variables including historical features, physical findings, and results of immediately available tests (blood, ECG, and ED cardiac monitoring) prior to ED discharge/hospital admission. A second emergency physician will evaluate approximately 10% of study patients for interobserver agreement calculation of predictor variables. The primary outcome will be a composite serious outcome occurring within 30 days of ED discharge and includes three distinct categories: serious adverse events (death, arrhythmia); identification of serious underlying disease (structural heart disease, aortic dissection, pulmonary embolism, severe pulmonary hypertension, subarachnoid hemorrhage, significant hemorrhage, myocardial infarction); or procedures to treat the cause of syncope. The secondary outcome will be any of the above serious outcomes either suspected or those occurring in the ED. A blinded Adjudication Committee will confirm all serious outcomes. Univariate analysis will be performed to compare the predictor variables in patients with and without primary outcome. Variables with p-values <0.2 and kappa values ≥0.60 will be selected for stepwise logistic regression to identify the risk factors and to develop the clinical decision tool. We will enroll 5,000 patients (with 125 positive for primary outcome) for robust identification of risk factors and clinical decision tool development.
Once successfully developed, this tool will accurately risk-stratify adult syncope patients; however, validation and implementation will still be required. This program of research should lead to standardized care of syncope patients, and improve patient safety.
PMCID: PMC4003802  PMID: 24629180
Syncope; Serious outcomes; Prognosis; Arrhythmia; Emergency department; Management
12.  The Older Persons’ Transitions in Care (OPTIC) study: pilot testing of the transition tracking tool 
OPTIC is a mixed method Partnership for Health System Improvement ( study focused on improving care for nursing home (NH) residents who are transferred to and from emergency departments (EDs) via emergency medical services (EMS). In the pilot study we tested feasibility of concurrently collecting individual resident data during transitions across settings using the Transition Tracking Tool (T3).
The pilot study tracked 54 residents transferred from NHs to one of two EDs in two western Canadian provinces over a three month period. The T3 is an electronic data collection tool developed for this study to record data relevant to describing and determining success of transitions in care. It comprises 800+ data elements including resident characteristics, reasons and precipitating factors for transfer, advance directives, family involvement, healthcare services provided, disposition decisions, and dates/times and timing.
Residents were elderly (mean age = 87.1 years) and the majority were female (61.8%). Feasibility of collecting data from multiple sources across two research sites was established. We identified resources and requirements to access and retrieve specific data elements in various settings to manage data collection processes and allocate research staff resources. We present preliminary data from NH, EMS, and ED settings.
While most research in this area has focused on a unidirectional process of patient progression from one care setting to another, this study established feasibility of collecting detailed data from beginning to end of a transition across multiple settings and in multiple directions.
PMCID: PMC3867622  PMID: 24330805
Transfers; Transitional care; Transition tracking; Nursing home; Emergency department
13.  Response 
Canadian Family Physician  1996;42:613-616.
PMCID: PMC2146437
14.  Factors associated with delayed use or nonuse of systemic corticosteroids in emergency department patients with acute asthma 
Little is known about factors associated with systemic corticosteroid (SC) use in emergency department (ED) patients with acute asthma.
To determine the patient and system factors associated with delayed use or nonuse of SCs in the ED.
We analyzed the asthma component of the National Emergency Department Safety Study. Patients with acute asthma in 62 urban EDs in 23 US states between 2003 and 2006 were identified. The primary outcome measure was the pattern of SC use in the ED, which was categorized as timely use (≤60 minutes), delayed use (>60 minutes), or nonuse. Multinomial logistic regression was performed to identify factors associated with delayed use or nonuse of SCs.
A total of 2,559 of 3,798 patients with acute asthma (67.4%) received SCs. Of these, the median door-to-SC time was 62 minutes (interquartile range, 35–100 minutes), with 1,319 patients (51.5%) having delayed SC treatment. Nonuse of SCs was largely explained by markers of asthma exacerbations (never intubated for asthma, lower respiratory rate, and higher oxygen saturation). In contrast, in addition to these factors, delayed SC treatment was associated with age of 40 years or older, female sex, longer duration of symptoms, ED presentation between 8 AM and 11:59 PM, and ED with a longer average patient wait time.
Physicians in the ED seem to appropriately administer SCs to higher-acuity asthmatic patients; however, the additional nonmedical factors represent opportunities to improve the timeliness of SC treatment in the ED.
PMCID: PMC3769954  PMID: 19852196
15.  Prospective Study of the Quality of Colonoscopies Performed by Primary Care Physicians: The Alberta Primary Care Endoscopy (APC-Endo) Study 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e67017.
The quality of colonoscopies performed by primary care physicians (PCPs) is unknown.
To determine whether PCP colonoscopists achieve colonoscopy quality benchmarks, and patient satisfaction with having their colonoscopy performed by a primary care physician.
Prospective multi-center, multi-physician observational study. Colonoscopic quality data collection occurred via completion of case report forms and pathological confirmation of lesions. Patient satisfaction was captured by a telephone survey.
Thirteen rural and suburban hospitals in Alberta, Canada.
Proportion of successful cecal intubations, average number of adenomas detected per colonoscopy, proportion of patients with at least one adenoma, and serious adverse event rates; patient satisfaction with their wait time and procedure, as well as willingness to have a repeat colonoscopy performed by their primary care endoscopist.
In the two-month study period, 10 study physicians performed 577 colonoscopies. The overall adjusted proportion of successful cecal intubations was 96.5% (95% CI 94.6–97.8), and all physicians achieved the adjusted cecal intubation target of ≥90%. The average number of ademonas detected per colonoscopy was 0.62 (95% CI 0.5–0.74). 46.4% (95% CI 38.5–54.3) of males and 30.2% (95% CI 22.3–38.2) of females ≥50 years of age having their first colonoscopy, had at least one adenoma. Four serious adverse events occurred (three post polypectomy bleeds and one perforation) and 99.3% of patients were willing to have a repeat colonoscopy performed by their primary care colonoscopist.
Two-month study length and non-universal participation by Alberta primary care endoscopists.
Primary care physician colonoscopists can achieve quality benchmarks in colonoscopy. Training additional primary care physicians in endoscopy may improve patient access and decrease endoscopic wait times, especially in rural settings.
PMCID: PMC3695091  PMID: 23826186
16.  A case-control study of medium-term exposure to ambient nitrogen dioxide pollution and hospitalization for stroke 
BMC Public Health  2013;13:368.
There are several plausible mechanisms whereby either short or long term exposure to pollution can increase the risk of stroke. Over the last decade, several studies have reported associations between short-term (day-to-day) increases in ambient air pollution and stroke. The findings from a smaller number of studies that have looked at long-term exposure to air pollution and stroke have been mixed. Most of these epidemiological studies have assigned exposure to air pollution based on place of residence, but these assignments are typically based on relatively coarse spatial resolutions. To date, few studies have evaluated medium-term exposures (i.e, exposures over the past season or year). To address this research gap, we evaluated associations between highly spatially resolved estimates of ambient nitrogen dioxide (NO2), a marker of traffic pollution, and emergency department visits for stroke in Edmonton, Canada.
This was a case-control study with cases defined as those who presented to an Edmonton area hospital emergency department between 2007 and 2009 with an acute ischemic stroke, hemorrhagic stroke, or transient ischemic attack. Controls were patients who presented to the same emergency departments for lacerations, sprains, or strains. A land-use regression model provided estimates of NO2 that were assigned to the place of residence. Logistic regression methods were used to estimate odds ratios for stroke in relation to an increase in the interquartile range of NO2 (5 ppb), adjusted for age, sex, meteorological variables, and neighborhood effects.
The study included 4,696 stroke (cases) and 37,723 injury patients (controls). For all strokes combined, there was no association with NO2. Namely, the odds ratio associated with an interquartile increase in NO2 was 1.01 (95% confidence interval {CI}: 0.94-1.08). No associations were evident for any of the stroke subtypes examined.
When combined with our earlier work in Edmonton, our findings suggest that day-to-day fluctuations in air pollution increase the risk of ischemic stroke during the summer season, while medium term exposures are unrelated to stroke risk. The findings for medium term exposure should be interpreted cautiously due to limited individual-level risk factor data.
PMCID: PMC3637065  PMID: 23597019
Stroke; Air pollution; Odds ratio; Case-control study; Land use regression; NO2
17.  Canadian Thoracic Society 2012 guideline update: Diagnosis and management of asthma in preschoolers, children and adults 
In 2010, the Canadian Thoracic Society (CTS) published a Consensus Summary for the diagnosis and management of asthma in children six years of age and older, and adults, including an updated Asthma Management Continuum. The CTS Asthma Clinical Assembly subsequently began a formal clinical practice guideline update process, focusing, in this first iteration, on topics of controversy and/or gaps in the previous guidelines.
Four clinical questions were identified as a focus for the updated guideline: the role of noninvasive measurements of airway inflammation for the adjustment of anti-inflammatory therapy; the initiation of adjunct therapy to inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) for uncontrolled asthma; the role of a single inhaler of an ICS/long-acting beta2-agonist combination as a reliever, and as a reliever and a controller; and the escalation of controller medication for acute loss of asthma control as part of a self-management action plan. The expert panel followed an adaptation process to identify and appraise existing guidelines on the specified topics. In addition, literature searches were performed to identify relevant systematic reviews and randomized controlled trials. The panel formally assessed and graded the evidence, and made 34 recommendations.
The updated guideline recommendations outline a role for inclusion of assessment of sputum eosinophils, in addition to standard measures of asthma control, to guide adjustment of controller therapy in adults with moderate to severe asthma. Appraisal of the evidence regarding which adjunct controller therapy to add to ICS and at what ICS dose to begin adjunct therapy in children and adults with poor asthma control supported the 2010 CTS Consensus Summary recommendations. New recommendations for the adjustment of controller medication within written action plans are provided. Finally, priority areas for future research were identified.
The present clinical practice guideline is the first update of the CTS Asthma Guidelines following the Canadian Respiratory Guidelines Committee’s new guideline development process. Tools and strategies to support guideline implementation will be developed and the CTS will continue to regularly provide updates reflecting new evidence.
PMCID: PMC3373283  PMID: 22536582
Asthma; Clinical practice guideline; Management
18.  Older Persons’ Transitions in Care (OPTIC): a study protocol 
BMC Geriatrics  2012;12:75.
Changes in health status, triggered by events such as infections, falls, and geriatric syndromes, are common among nursing home (NH) residents and necessitate transitions between NHs and Emergency Departments (EDs). During transitions, residents frequently experience care that is delayed, unnecessary, not evidence-based, potentially unsafe, and fragmented. Furthermore, a high proportion of residents and their family caregivers report substantial unmet needs during transitions. This study is part of a program of research whose overall aim is to improve quality of care for frail older adults who reside in NHs. The purpose of this study is to identify successful transitions from multiple perspectives and to identify organizational and individual factors related to transition success, in order to inform improvements in care for frail elderly NH residents during transitions to and from acute care. Specific objectives are to:
1. define successful and unsuccessful elements of transitions from multiple perspectives;
2. develop and test a practical tool to assess transition success;
3. assess transition processes in a discrete set of transfers in two study sites over a one year period;
4. assess the influence of organizational factors in key practice locations, e.g., NHs, emergency medical services (EMS), and EDs, on transition success; and
5. identify opportunities for evidence-informed management and quality improvement decisions related to the management of NH – ED transitions.
This is a mixed-methods observational study incorporating an integrated knowledge translation (IKT) approach. It uses data from multiple levels (facility, care unit, individual) and sources (healthcare providers, residents, health records, and administrative databases).
Key to study success is operationalizing the IKT approach by using a partnership model in which the OPTIC governance structure provides for team decision-makers and researchers to participate equally in developing study goals, design, data collection, analysis and implications of findings. As preliminary and ongoing study findings are developed, their implications for practice and policy in study settings will be discussed by the research team and shared with study site administrators and staff. The study is designed to investigate the complexities of transitions and to enhance the potential for successful and sustained improvement of these transitions.
PMCID: PMC3570479  PMID: 23241360
Seniors; Elderly; Transitions; Quality of care; Handovers; Communications; Emergency Departments; Emergency Medical Services; Nursing homes; Measurement
19.  Environmental Determinants of Bicycling Injuries in Alberta, Canada 
This study examined environmental risk factors for bicycling injuries, by combining data on bicyclist injuries collected by interviews in the emergency department (ED) with street-level environmental audits of injury locations, capturing path, roadway, safety, land use, and aesthetic characteristics. Cases were bicyclists struck by a motor vehicle (MV) or with severe injuries (hospitalized). Controls were bicyclists who were not hit by a car or those seen and discharged from the ED, matched on time and day of injury. Logistic regression odds ratios (ORs) adjusted for age, sex, peak time, and bicyclist speed with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were estimated to relate injury risk to environmental characteristics. Factors contributing to MV events included greater traffic volume (OR 5.13; 95% CI [1.44, 18.27]), intersections (OR 6.89; 95% CI [1.48, 32.14]), retail establishments (OR 5.56; 95% CI [1.72, 17.98]), and path obstructions (OR 3.83; 95% CI [1.03, 14.25]). Locations where the road was in good condition (OR 0.25; 95% CI [0.07, 0.96]) and where there was high surveillance from surrounding buildings (OR 0.32; 95% CI [0.13, 0.82]) were associated with less severe injuries. These findings could be used by bicyclists and transportation planners to improve safety.
PMCID: PMC3515916  PMID: 23251192
20.  Non-Specific Abdominal Pain and Air Pollution: A Novel Association 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e47669.
We studied whether short-term exposure to air pollution was associated with non-specific abdominal pain in epidemiologic and animal studies.
Patients visiting the emergency department with non-specific abdominal pain were identified in Edmonton (1992 to 2002, n = 95,173) and Montreal (1997 to 2002, n = 25,852). We calculated the daily concentrations for ozone (O3), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), sulfur dioxide (SO2), carbon monoxide (CO), and particles <10 (PM10) or <2.5 (PM2.5) µm. A case crossover study design was used to estimate the odds ratio (OR) and 95% confidence interval (CI) associated with an increase in the interquartile range of the air pollutants. We investigated differential effects by age and sex. Mice were gavaged with urban particle extracts. In animal models, colonic motility was tested, and visceral abdominal pain was measured using a writhing test, and behavioral response to oil of mustard and neostigmine. Motility and pain was measured acutely (1.5 hours after gavage) and chronically (7-days and 21-days after gavage).
Emergency department visits for non-specific abdominal pain were primarily by women between the ages of 15–24 years. Individuals aged 15 to 24 years were at increased risk of non-specific abdominal pain in Edmonton (same day CO: OR = 1.04, 95% CI = 1.02–1.06; and NO2: OR = 1.06, 95% CI = 1.03–1.09). The risk of air pollution among 15–24 year olds in Montreal was significantly positive (same day CO: OR = 1.11, 95% CI = 1.05–1.17; NO2: OR = 1.09, 95% CI = 1.01–1.16; SO2: OR = 1.17, 95% CI = 1.10–1.25; PM2.5: OR = 1.09, 95% CI = 1.04–1.15). Abdominal pain was increased by an acute gavage of pollution extract but not to chronic exposure to pollutants. Colonic transit was delayed following chronic but not acute exposure with the pollutants.
Epidemiological and animal data suggest that short-term exposure to air pollution may trigger non-specific abdominal pain in young individuals.
PMCID: PMC3485276  PMID: 23118887
21.  Validation of self-reported chronic obstructive pulmonary disease among patients in the ED☆ 
To determine whether the self-reported diagnosis of adults who present to the emergency department (ED) with an acute exacerbation of either asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is validated by medical record review.
This is cross-sectional study of 78 consecutive adults, 55 years and older, presenting to 3 EDs with symptoms suggestive of an exacerbation of asthma or COPD. We used current spirometric guidelines for a “spirometrically validated” diagnosis of COPD (eg, postbronchodilator forced expiratory volume in 1 second/forced ventilatory capacity b70%). Patients without office spirometry result were classified with COPD using clinical validation based on at least one of the following: primary care physician diagnosis of COPD, chronic bronchitis, or emphysema in the medical record or chest radiography, chest computed tomography, or arterial blood gas (ABG) diagnostic of COPD.
Among 60 patients who self-reported diagnosis of COPD, 98% (95% confidence interval, 89-100) had clinically validated or spirometrically validated COPD. In addition, 83% (95% confidence interval, 59-96) of patients who reported either asthma only or no respiratory disease had clinically validated or spirometrically validated COPD. In no case was the chest radiograph or the ABG useful as a stand-alone test in establishing the diagnosis of COPD.
Patients 55 years and older presenting to the ED with acute asthma or COPD, even those with clinical symptoms but no diagnosis of COPD, are likely to have COPD. Clinicians should maintain a high index of suspicion for COPD when older asthma patients deny COPD.
PMCID: PMC3422655  PMID: 19371527
22.  Outcomes following chronic obstructive pulmonary disease presentations to emergency departments in Alberta: A population-based study 
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a complex, multisystem disorder that often results in exacerbations requiring emergency department (ED) management. Following an exacerbation and discharge from the ED, reassessment and management adjustment with a health care provider are recommended to re-establish control of the disease.
To describe outcomes of all COPD presentations to EDs made by adults in Alberta including the time spent in the ED and the physician visits following the ED visit.
Provincial administrative databases were used to obtain all ED encounters for COPD during six fiscal years (1999 to 2005). The information extracted included demographics, ED visit timing, and acute and subacute outcomes (physician visits up to 365 days after discharge for all 7302 discharged individuals during a one-year period). Data analysis included descriptive summaries and survival curves.
There were 85,330 ED visits for acute COPD, of which 67% were discharged from the ED. Median ED length of stay was longer in large urban areas (Calgary: 5 h 9 min; Edmonton: 4 h 58 min) than in other regions of Alberta (1 h 17 min). Admissions resulted from 32% of visits and varied among regions; however, few were admitted to the intensive care unit (1%) or died (0.1%). Following discharge, the median time to first follow-up with a physician was 13 days; however, only 40% of patients had follow-up visits in the first seven days. Repeat ED visits within seven days occurred in 5.7% of discharged patients, while 25.6% of discharged patients had repeat ED visits within 365 days of discharge.
More than 30% of COPD ED visits resulted in admission; regional variation was significant. Moreover, discharged patients experienced delayed follow-up and often required repeat ED visits. Interventions to improve reassessment and reduce COPD-related repeat ED visits should be explored.
PMCID: PMC3006153  PMID: 21165352
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; Databases; Emergency medicine; Epidemiology; Respiratory diseases
23.  A retrospective cohort study of stroke onset: implications for characterizing short term effects from ambient air pollution 
Environmental Health  2011;10:87.
Case-crossover studies used to investigate associations between an environmental exposure and an acute health response, such as stroke, will often use the day an individual presents to an emergency department (ED) or is admitted to hospital to infer when the stroke occurred. Similarly, they will use patient's place of residence to assign exposure. The validity of using these two data elements, typically extracted from administrative databases or patient charts, to define the time of stroke onset and to assign exposure are critical in this field of research as air pollutant concentrations are temporally and spatially variable. Our a priori hypotheses were that date of presentation differs from the date of stroke onset for a substantial number of patients, and that assigning exposure to ambient pollution using place of residence introduces an important source of exposure measurement error. The objective of this study was to improve our understanding on how these sources of errors influence risk estimates derived using a case-crossover study design.
We sought to collect survey data from stroke patients presenting to hospital EDs in Edmonton, Canada on the date, time, location and nature of activities at onset of stroke symptoms. The daily mean ambient concentrations of NO2 and PM2.5 on the self-reported day of stroke onset was estimated from continuous fixed-site monitoring stations.
Of the 336 participating patients, 241 were able to recall when their stroke started and 72.6% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 66.9 - 78.3%) experienced stroke onset the same day they presented to the ED. For subjects whose day of stroke onset differed from the day of presentation to the ED, this difference ranged from 1 to 12 days (mean = 1.8; median = 1). In these subjects, there were no systematic differences in assigned pollution levels for either NO2 or PM2.5 when day of presentation rather than day of stroke onset was used. At the time of stroke onset, 89.9% (95% CI: 86.6 - 93.1%) reported that they were inside, while 84.5% (95% CI: 80.6 - 88.4%) reported that for most of the day they were within a 15 minute drive from home. We estimated that due to the mis-specification of the day of stroke onset, the risk of hospitalization for stroke would be understated by 15% and 20%, for NO2 and PM2.5, respectively.
Our data suggest that day of presentation and residential location data obtained from administrative records reasonably captures the time and location of stroke onset for most patients. Under these conditions, any associated errors are unlikely to be an important source of bias when estimating air pollution risks in this population.
PMCID: PMC3196689  PMID: 21975181
Air pollution; stroke; survey; emergency service

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