Ultrasound (US) greatly facilitates cannulation of the internal jugular vein. Despite the ability to visualize the needle and anatomy, adverse events still occur. We hypothesized that the technique has limitations among certain patients and clinical scenarios. Objective: The purpose of our study was to identify characteristics of adverse events surrounding US-guided central venous cannulation (CVC). Methods: We assembled a prospective observational cohort of emergency department (ED) patients undergoing consecutive CVC under US. The primary outcome of interest was a composite of acute mechanical adverse events including hematoma, arterial cannulation, pneumothorax, and unsuccessful placement. Physicians performing the CVC recorded anatomical site, reason for insertion, and acute complications. We followed the catheters until they were removed based on radiographic evidence hospital nursing records. ED charts and pharmacy records contributed variables of interest. A self reported online survey provided physician experience information. Logistic regression was used to calculate the odds of an adverse outcome. Results: Physicians attempted 289 CVC on 282 patients. An adverse outcome occurred in 57 attempts (19.7%, 95%CI 15.5–24.7) the most common being 31 unsuccessful placements (11%, 95% CI 7.7–14.8). Patients with a history of end stage renal disease (OR 3.54, 95%CI 1.59–7.89) and central lines placed by operators with intermediate experience (OR 2.26, 95% CI 1.19–4.32) were most likely to encounter adverse events. Previously cited predictors such as BMI, coagulopathy, and pulmonary hyperinflation were not significant in our final model. Conclusions: Acute adverse events occurred in approximately 20% of US guided central line attempts. We identified both patient (history of end stage renal disease) and physician (intermediate experience level) factors that are associated with acute adverse events.
Catheterization; Central Venous; Ultrasonography; Interventional; Emergency Medicine
The safest site for central venous cannulation (CVC) remains debated. Many emergency medicine physicians advocate the ultrasound guided internal jugular approach (USIJ) because of data supporting its efficiency. However, a number of physicians prefer, and are most comfortable with, the subclavian vein approach. The purpose of this study was to describe adverse event rates among operators using the USIJ approach and the landmark subclavian vein approach without ultrasound (SC).
This was a prospective observational trial of patients undergoing CVC of the subclavian or internal jugular veins in the Emergency Department (ED). Physicians performing the procedures did not undergo standardized training in either technique. The primary outcome was a composite of adverse events defined as hematoma, arterial cannulation, pneumothorax, and failure to cannulate. Physicians recorded the anatomical site of cannulation, ultrasound assistance, indications and acute complications. Variables of interest were collected from the pharmacy and ED record. Physician experience was based on a self-reported survey. We followed outcomes of central line insertion until device removal or patient discharge.
Physicians attempted 236 USIJ and 132 SC cannulations on 333 patients. The overall adverse event rate was 22% with failure to cannulate being the most common. Adverse events occurred in 19% of USIJ attempts compared to 29% of non-ultrasound guided subclavian attempts. Among highly experienced operators CVCs placed at the subclavian site resulted in more adverse events than those performed using USIJ (RR=1.89, 95%CI 1.05 to 3.39).
While limited by observational design, our results suggest that the USIJ technique may result in fewer adverse events compared to the landmark SC approach.
Catheterization; Central Venous; Ultrasonography; Interventional; Emergency Medicine
Lactate clearance (LC) and central venous oxygen saturation (ScvO2) have been proposed as goals of early sepsis resuscitation. The authors sought to determine the agreement and prognostic value of achieving ScvO2 or LC goals in septic shock patients undergoing emergency department (ED) based early resuscitation.
This was a preplanned analysis of a multicenter ED randomized controlled trial of early sepsis resuscitation targeting three variables: central venous pressure, mean arterial pressure, and either ScvO2 or LC. Inclusion criteria included suspected infection, two or more systemic inflammation criteria, and either systolic blood pressure <90 mmHg after intravenous fluid bolus or lactate > 4 mM. Both ScvO2 and LC were measured simultaneously. The ScvO2 goal was defined as ≥70%. Lactate was measured at enrollment and every two hours until the goal was reached, or up to six hours. LC goal was defined as a decrease of ≥ 10% from initial measurement. The primary outcome was in-hospital mortality.
Two hundred three subjects were included, with an overall mortality of 19.7%. Achievement of the ScvO2 goal only was associated with a mortality rate of 41% (9/22), while achievement of the LC goal only was associated with a mortality rate of 8% (2/25; proportion difference 33%; 95% CI = 9% to 55%). No agreement was found between goal achievement (κ = −0.02), and exact test for matched pairs demonstrated no significant difference between discordant pairs (p = 0.78).
No agreement was found between LC and ScvO2 goal achievement in early sepsis resuscitation. Achievement of a ScvO2 ≥70% without LC ≥10% was more strongly associated with mortality than achievement of LC ≥10% with failure to achieve ScvO2 ≥70%.
Although many global health programs focus on providing clinical care or medical education, improving clinical operations can have a significant effect on patient care delivery, especially in developing health systems without high-level operations management. Lean manufacturing techniques have been effective in decreasing emergency department (ED) length of stay, patient waiting times, numbers of patients leaving without being seen, and door-to-balloon times for ST-elevation myocardial infarction in developed health systems; but use of Lean in low to middle income countries with developing emergency medicine systems has not been well characterized.
To describe the application of Lean manufacturing techniques to improve clinical operations at Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital in Ghana and to identify key lessons learned to aid future global EM initiatives.
A three-week Lean improvement program focused on the hospital admissions process at Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital was completed by a 14-person team in six stages: problem definition, scope of project planning, value stream mapping, root cause analysis, future state planning, and implementation planning.
The authors identified eight lessons learned during our use of Lean to optimize the operations of an ED in a global health setting: 1) the Lean process aided in building a partnership with Ghanaian colleagues; 2) obtaining and maintaining senior institutional support is necessary and challenging; 3) addressing power differences among the team to obtain feedback from all team members is critical to successful Lean analysis; 4) choosing a manageable initial project is critical to influence long-term Lean use in a new environment; 5) data intensive Lean tools can be adapted and are effective in a less resourced health system; 6) several Lean tools focused on team problem solving techniques worked well in a low resource system without modification; 7) using Lean highlighted that important changes do not require an influx of resources; 8) despite different levels of resources, root causes of system inefficiencies are often similar across health care systems, but require unique solutions appropriate to the clinical setting.
Lean manufacturing techniques can be successfully adapted for use in developing health systems. Lessons learned from this Lean project will aid future introduction of advanced operations management techniques in low to middle income countries.
ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) care is time-dependent. Many STEMI patients require inter-hospital helicopter transfer for percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) if ground emergency medical services (EMS) initially transport the patient to a non-PCI center. This investigation models potential time savings of ground EMS requests for helicopter EMS (HEMS) transport of a STEMI patient directly to a PCI center, rather than usual transport to a local hospital with subsequent transfer.
Data from a multicenter retrospective chart review of STEMI patients transferred for primary PCI by a single HEMS agency over 12 months were used to model medical contact to balloon times (MCTB) for two scenarios: a direct-to-scene HEMS response, and hospital rendezvous after ground EMS initiation of transfer.
Actual MCTB median time for 36 hospital-initiated transfers was 160 minutes (range 116 to 321 minutes). Scene response MCTB median time was estimated as 112 minutes (range 69 to 187 minutes). The difference in medians was 48 minutes (95% CI = 33 to 62 minutes). Hospital rendezvous MCTB median time was estimated as 113 minutes (range 74 to 187 minutes). The difference in medians was 47 minutes (95% CI = 32 to 62 minutes). No patient had an actual MCTB time of less than 90 minutes; in the scene response and hospital rendezvous scenarios, two out of 36 (6%) and three out of 36 (8%), respectively, would have had MCTB times under 90 minutes.
In this setting, ground EMS initiation of HEMS transfers for STEMI patients has the potential to reduce MCTB time, but most patients will still not achieve MCTB time of less than 90 minutes.
To compare case ascertainment, agreement, validity, and missing values for clinical research data obtained, processed, and linked electronically from electronic health records (EHR), compared to “manual” data processing and record abstraction in a cohort of out-ofhospital trauma patients.
This was a secondary analysis of two sets of data collected for a prospective, population-based, out-of-hospital trauma cohort evaluated by 10 emergency medical services (EMS) agencies transporting to 16 hospitals, from January 1, 2006 through October 2, 2007. Eighteen clinical, operational, procedural, and outcome variables were collected and processed separately and independently using two parallel data processing strategies, by personnel blinded to patients in the other group. The electronic approach included electronic health record data exports from EMS agencies, reformatting and probabilistic linkage to outcomes from local trauma registries and state discharge databases. The manual data processing approach included chart matching, data abstraction, and data entry by a trained abstractor. Descriptive statistics, measures of agreement, and validity were used to compare the two approaches to data processing.
During the 21-month period, 418 patients underwent both data processing methods and formed the primary cohort. Agreement was good to excellent (kappa 0.76 to 0.97; intraclass correlation coefficient 0.49 to 0.97), with exact agreement in 67% to 99% of cases, and a median difference of zero for all continuous and ordinal variables. The proportions of missing out-of-hospital values were similar between the two approaches, although electronic processing generated more missing outcomes (87 out of 418, 21%, 95% CI = 17% to 25%) than the manual approach (11 out of 418, 3%, 95% CI = 1% to 5%). Case ascertainment of eligible injured patients was greater using electronic methods (n = 3,008) compared to manual methods (n = 629).
In this sample of out-of-hospital trauma patients, an all-electronic data processing strategy identified more patients and generated values with good agreement and validity compared to traditional data collection and processing methods.
The objectives of this study were to determine concordance of emergency department (ED) management of acute myocardial infarction (AMI) with guideline recommendations and to identify ED and patient characteristics predictive of higher guideline concordance.
The authors conducted a chart review study of ED AMI care as part of the National Emergency Department Safety Study (NEDSS). Using a primary hospital discharge diagnosis of AMI (International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision, Clinical Modification [ICD-9-CM], codes 410.XX), a random sample of ED visits for AMI in 58 urban EDs across 20 U.S. states between 2003 and 2006 were identified. Concordance with American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association (ACC/AHA) guideline recommendations was evaluated using five individual quality measures and a composite concordance score. Concordance scores were calculated as the percentage of eligible patients who received guidelines-recommended care. These percentage scores were rescaled from 0 to 100, with 100 indicating perfect concordance.
The cohort consisted of 3,819 subjects; their median age was 65 years, and 62% were men. The mean (± standard deviation [SD]) ED composite concordance score was 61 ± 8), with a broad range of values (42 to 84). Except for aspirin use (mean concordance, 82), ED concordance scores were low (beta-blocker use, 56; timely electrocardiogram [ECG], 41; timely fibrinolytic therapy, 26; timely ED disposition for primary percutaneous coronary intervention [PCI] candidates, 43). In multivariable analyses, older age (beta-coefficient per 10-year increase, −1.5; 95% confidence interval [CI] = −2.4 to −0.5) and southern EDs (beta-coefficient, −5.2; 95% CI = −9.6 to −0.9) were associated with lower guideline concordance, whereas ST-segment elevation on initial ED ECG was associated with higher guideline concordance (beta-coefficient, 3.6; 95% CI = 1.5 to 5.7).
Overall ED concordance with guideline-recommended processes of care was low to moderate. Emergency physicians should continue to work with other stakeholders in AMI care, such as emergency medical services (EMS) and cardiologists, to develop strategies to improve care processes.
acute myocardial infarction; emergency department; guidelines; quality of care
There is little evidence about which children with bronchiolitis will have worsened disease after discharge from the emergency department (ED). The objective of this study was to determine predictors of post-ED unscheduled visits.
The authors conducted a prospective cohort study of patients discharged from 2004 to 2006 at 30 EDs in 15 U.S. states. Inclusion criteria were diagnosis of bronchiolitis, age <2 years, and discharge home; the exclusion criterion was previous enrollment. Unscheduled visits were defined as urgent visits to an ED/clinic for worsened bronchiolitis within 2 weeks.
Of 722 patients eligible for the current analysis, 717 (99%) had unscheduled visit data, of whom 121 (17%; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 14% to 20%) had unscheduled visits. Unscheduled visits were more likely for children age <2 months (11% vs. 6%; p = 0.04), males (70% vs. 57%; p = 0.007), and those with history of hospitalization (27% vs. 18%; p = 0.01). The two groups were similar in other demographic and clinical factors (all p > 0.10). Using multivariable logistic regression, independent predictors of unscheduled visits were age <2 months, male, and history of hospitalization.
In this study of children age younger than 2 years with bronchiolitis, one of six children had unscheduled visits within 2 weeks of ED discharge. The three predictors of unscheduled visits were age under 2 months, male sex, and previous hospitalization.
bronchiolitis; emergency department; risk factors; prediction rules; unscheduled visits
To describe the association between two novel biomarkers, calprotectin and leucine-rich alpha glycoprotein-1 (LRG), and appendicitis in children.
This was a prospective, cohort study of children 3 to 18 years old presenting to a pediatric emergency department with possible appendicitis. Blood and urine samples were assayed for calprotectin and LRG via enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Final diagnosis was determined by histopathology or telephone follow-up. Biomarker levels were compared for subjects with and without appendicitis. Recursive partitioning was used to identify thresholds that predicted appendicitis.
Of 176 subjects, mean age was 11.6 years (SD ±4.0 years) and 52% were male. Fifty-eight patients (34%) were diagnosed with appendicitis. Median plasma calprotectin, serum LRG, and urine LRG levels were higher in appendicitis versus non-appendicitis (p < 0.008). When stratified by perforation status, median plasma calprotectin and serum LRG levels were higher in non-perforated appendicitis vs. non-appendicitis (p < 0.01). Median serum LRG, urine LRG, and plasma calprotectin levels were higher in perforated appendicitis as compared to non-perforated appendicitis (p < 0.05). Urine calprotectin did not differ among groups. A serum LRG < 40,150 ng/ml, a urine LRG < 42 ng/ml, and a plasma calprotectin < 159 ng/ml, each provided a sensitivity and negative predictive value of 100% to identify children at low risk for appendicitis, but with specificities ranging from 23% to 35%. The standard white blood cell (WBC) count achieved 100% sensitivity at a higher specificity than both novel biomarkers.
Plasma calprotectin and serum/urine LRG are elevated in pediatric appendicitis. No individual marker performed as well as the WBC.
Available D-dimer assays have low specificity and may increase radiographic testing for pulmonary embolism (PE). To help clinicians better target testing, this study sought to quantify the effect of risk factors for a positive quantitative D-dimer in patients evaluated for PE.
This was a prospective, multicenter, observational study. Emergency department (ED) patients evaluated for PE with a quantitative D-dimer were eligible for inclusion. The main outcome of interest was a positive D-dimer. Odds ratio (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were determined by multivariable logistic regression. Adjusted estimates of relative risk were also calculated.
A total of 4,346 patients had D-dimer testing, of whom 2,930 (67%) were women. A total of 2,500 (57%) were white, 1,474 (34%) were black or African American, 238 (6%) were Hispanic, and 144 (3%) were of other race or ethnicity. The mean (±SD) age was 48 (±17) years. Overall, 1,903 (44%) D-dimers were positive. Model fit was adequate (c-statistic = 0.739, Hosmer and Lemeshow p-value = 0.13). Significant positive predictors of D-dimer positive included female sex; increasing age; black (vs. white) race; cocaine use; general, limb, or neurologic immobility; hemoptysis; hemodialysis; active malignancy; rheumatoid arthritis; lupus; sickle cell disease; prior venous thromboembolism (VTE; not under treatment); pregnancy and postpartum state; and abdominal, chest, orthopedic, or other surgery. Warfarin use was protective. In contrast, several variables known to be associated with PE were not associated with positive D-dimer results: body mass index (BMI), estrogen use, family history of PE, (inactive) malignancy, thrombophilia, trauma within 4 weeks, travel, and prior VTE (under treatment).
Many factors are associated with a positive D-dimer test. The effect of these factors on the usefulness of the test should be considered prior to ordering a D-dimer.
D-dimer; pulmonary embolism; venous thromboembolism; testing
Workplace violence is a concerning issue. Healthcare workers represent a significant portion of the victims, especially those who work in the emergency department (ED). The objective of this study was to examine ED workplace violence and staff perceptions of physical safety.
Data were obtained from the National Emergency Department Safety Study (NEDSS), which surveyed staff across 69 U.S. EDs including physicians, residents, nurses, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants. The authors also conducted surveys of key informants (one from each site) including ED chairs, medical directors, nurse managers, and administrators. The main outcome measures included physical attacks against staff, frequency of guns or knives in the ED, and staff perceptions of physical safety.
A total of 5,695 staff surveys were distributed, and 3,518 surveys from 65 sites were included in the final analysis. One-fourth of surveyed ED staff reported feeling safe sometimes, rarely, or never. Key informants at the sampled EDs reported a total of 3,461 physical attacks (median of 11 attacks per ED) over the 5-year period. Key informants at 20% of EDs reported that guns or knives were brought to the ED on a daily or weekly basis. In multivariate analysis, nurses were less likely to feel safe “most of the time” or “always” when compared to other surveyed staff.
This study showed that violence and weapons in the ED are common, and nurses were less likely to feel safe than other ED staff.
emergency department; violence; weapons; safety; workplace
The objective was to estimate the glycemic control of patients with known diabetes and to assess the prevalence of undiagnosed diabetes in an unselected emergency department (ED) population. Secondary objectives include evaluating the prevalence of undiagnosed diabetes in high-risk groups of ED patients such as Hispanic patients, African Americans, and patients with body mass index (BMI) ≥ 30 kg/m2.
A convenience sample of adult ED patients was screened for diabetes using a National Glyco-hemoglobin Standardization Program–certified point-of-care (POC) glycated hemoglobin (HbA1C) meter at a single academic medical center during eight 24-hour periods. Diabetes was defined as HbA1C ≥ 6.5%, consistent with new American Diabetes Association (ADA) guidelines.
Of the 1,611 patients evaluated in the ED during the study period, 313 were included in the study sample. Of these, 15% reported a history of diabetes, 42% of whom were suboptimally controlled. An additional 14% of the study sample was found to have previously undiagnosed diabetes. In our limited sample, the prevalence of previously undiagnosed diabetes in Hispanics, African Americans, and patients with BMI ≥ 30 kg/m2 was 14, 27, and 22%, respectively.
Patients in our sample had a high prevalence of suboptimally controlled and undiagnosed diabetes. New POC HbA1C devices and simplified diagnostic criteria for diabetes significantly enhance the possibility of ED-based screening programs. Future research should validate our findings in a broader array of EDs and study the acceptance of such ED-based diabetes screening programs.
The effect of emergency department (ED) crowding on equitable care is the least studied of the domains of quality as defined by the Institute of Medicine (IOM). Inequities in access and treatment throughout the health care system are well documented in all fields of medicine. While there is little evidence demonstrating that inequity is worsened by crowding, theory and evidence from social science disciplines, as well as known barriers to care for vulnerable populations, would suggest that crowding will worsen inequities.
To design successful interventions, however, it is important to first understand how crowding can result in disparities and base interventions on these mechanisms. A research agenda is proposed to understand mechanisms that may threaten equity during periods of crowding and design and test potential interventions that may ensure the equitable aspect of quality of care.
This article describes the results of the Interventions to Safeguard Safety breakout session of the 2011 Academic Emergency Medicine (AEM) consensus conference entitled “Interventions to Assure Quality in the Crowded Emergency Department.” Using a multistep nominal group technique, experts in emergency department (ED) crowding, patient safety, and systems engineering defined knowledge gaps and priority research questions related to the maintenance of safety in the crowded ED. Consensus was reached for seven research priorities related to interventions to maintain safety in the setting of a crowded ED. Included among these are: 1) How do routine corrective processes and compensating mechanism change during crowding? 2) What metrics should be used to determine ED safety? 3) How can checklists ensure safer care and what factors contribute to their success or failure? 4) What constitutes safe staffing levels / ratios? 5) How can we align emergency medicine (EM)-specific patient safety issues with national patient safety issues? 6) How can we develop metrics and skills to recognize when an ED is getting close to catastrophic overload conditions? and 7) What can EM learn from experts and modeling from fields outside of medicine to develop innovative solutions? These priorities have the potential to inform future clinical and human factors research and extramural funding decisions related to this important topic.
This article presents a model of how a build-up of interruptions can shift the dynamics of the emergency department (ED) from an adaptive, self-regulating system into a fragile, crisis-prone one. Drawing on case studies of organizational disasters and insights from the theory of high-reliability organizations, the authors use computer simulations to show how the accumulation of small interruptions could have disproportionately large effects in the ED. In the face of a mounting workload created by interruptions, EDs, like other organizational systems, have tipping points, thresholds beyond which a vicious cycle can lead rather quickly to the collapse of normal operating routines and in the extreme to a crisis of organizational paralysis. The authors discuss some possible implications for emergency medicine, emphasizing the potential threat from routine, non-novel demands on EDs and raising the concern that EDs are operating closer to the precipitous edge of crisis as ED crowding exacerbates the problem.
Studies published in general and specialty medical journals have the potential to improve emergency medicine (EM) practice, but there can be delayed awareness of this evidence because emergency physicians (EPs) are unlikely to read most of these journals. Also, not all published studies are intended for or ready for clinical practice application. The authors developed “Best Evidence in Emergency Medicine” (BEEM) to ameliorate these problems by searching for, identifying, appraising, and translating potentially practice-changing studies for EPs. An initial step in the BEEM process is the BEEM rater scale, a novel tool for EPs to collectively evaluate the relative clinical relevance of EM-related studies found in more than 120 journals. The BEEM rater process was designed to serve as a clinical relevance filter to identify those studies with the greatest potential to affect EM practice. Therefore, only those studies identified by BEEM raters as having the highest clinical relevance are selected for the subsequent critical appraisal process and, if found methodologically sound, are promoted as the best evidence in EM.
The primary objective was to measure inter-rater reliability (IRR) of the BEEM rater scale. Secondary objectives were to determine the minimum number of EP raters needed for the BEEM rater scale to achieve acceptable reliability and to compare performance of the scale against a previously published evidence rating system, the McMaster Online Rating of Evidence (MORE), in an EP population.
The authors electronically distributed the title, conclusion, and a PubMed link for 23 recently published studies related to EM to a volunteer group of 134 EPs. The volunteers answered two demographic questions and rated the articles using one of two randomly assigned seven-point Likert scales, the BEEM rater scale (n = 68) or the MORE scale (n = 66), over two separate administrations. The IRR of each scale was measured using generalizability theory.
The IRR of the BEEM rater scale ranged between 0.90 (95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.86 to 0.93) to 0.92 (95% CI = 0.89 to 0.94) across administrations. Decision studies showed a minimum of 12 raters is required for acceptable reliability of the BEEM rater scale. The IRR of the MORE scale was 0.82 to 0.84.
The BEEM rater scale is a highly reliable, single-question tool for a small number of EPs to collectively rate the relative clinical relevance within the specialty of EM of recently published studies from a variety of medical journals. It compares favorably with the MORE system because it achieves a high IRR despite simply requiring raters to read each article’s title and conclusion.
The emergency department (ED) is a valuable setting to initiate intervention in order to prevent future complications following traumatic injury. Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) occurs in 10% to 40% of patients after single-incident civilian trauma. Prior research suggests young age is associated with increased risk. We hypothesized that other factors correlated with age may be responsible. The aim of this study was to determine if factors identifiable in the ED can better explain the relationship between younger age and PTSD, therefore more specifically identifying those at risk for long-term distress.
The influence of age on PTSD severity scores was isolated using data from an established screening program for all admitted trauma patients at a Level I trauma center. The PTSD Checklist, Civilian (PCLC) was administered prospectively to 527 adult trauma patients in order to measure PTSD symptom severity immediately post-trauma. Patient and trauma characteristics were then reviewed using medical records. Hierarchical linear regression modeled and evaluated the independent association of age with PTSD symptom severity, and explored additional variables as better predictors of risk.
PTSD symptom severity was associated individually with younger age, ethnic minority status, assaultive trauma, unemployment, low household income, and being unmarried, but not with sex, Injury Severity Score, or Glasgow Coma Scale score at the scene. Multivariate analysis demonstrated assaultive trauma and lower socioeconomic status (SES) were best associated with greater PCLC scores, accounting for 9.3% of the variance. Age did not account for additional variance.
Although young age is associated with increased PTSD symptom severity scores, characteristics associated with young age, specifically assaultive trauma and low SES, account for this risk. Young age is not an independent risk factor for PTSD. Psychological assessment in the ED can be targeted towards assaultive trauma patients, especially those of low SES, to establish early intervention and hopefully prevent the development of PTSD.
The purpose of this study was to describe the associations between individual health insurance and ambulance utilization using a national sample of patients who receive emergency department (ED) care.
The data source was the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, years 2004 through 2006. Non-institutionalized patients between ages 18 and 65 years were included. The primary dependant variable was ambulance use. Multivariable logistic regression methods were used to assess the associations between health insurance status and ambulance use, and to adjust for confounders.
A total of 61,013 ED visits were included, representing a national sample of approximately 70 million annual ED visits over three years. Ambulance transport was used in 11% of private insurance visits, 16% of Medicaid visits, and 13% of uninsured visits. In the adjusted model, visits by patients with Medicaid (aOR 1.60, 99% confidence interval (CI) = 1.37 to 1.86) and the uninsured (aOR 1.43, 99% CI = 1.23 to 1.66) were more likely to arrive by ambulance than visits by patients with private insurance. Ambulance use among the uninsured was most pronounced in metropolitan areas.
Ambulance use varies by health insurance status. Medicaid coverage and lack of insurance are each independently associated with increased odds of ambulance use, suggesting a disproportionate role for EMS in the care of patients with limited financial resources.
Adolescents with a history of peer assault are known to report high rates of other risky behaviors. The characteristics of adolescents seeking care in the ED for acute assault-related injury are less well-established. This knowledge deficit is particularly noticeable for adolescent female victims of peer assault. This study’s objectives were: 1) to characterize the demographics and risk behaviors of youths presenting to the emergency department (ED) with acute assault-related injury; and 2) to compare assaulted youths’ demographic characteristics, past experiences with violence, and other risk behaviors by sex.
A systematic sample of adolescents (ages 14 to 18 years) presenting to an urban ED with acute assault-related injury (excluding dating violence, sexual assault, and child abuse) was recruited. Consenting participants self-administered a computerized survey about demographics, history of peer and dating aggression, and theoretical correlates of violence (e.g., alcohol and other drug use, depressive symptoms, weapon carriage). Multivariate logistic regression was performed to identify factors that were differentially associated with presentation to the ED for acute assault-related injury for females versus males.
Of 3,338 adolescents completing a screening survey during the 36-month study period, 197 had presented to the ED with acute assault-related injuries; seven of these were excluded from this study due to being victims of dating violence. Most (n = 179, 94.2%) of these 190 acutely assaulted participants were discharged home. The majority reported a history of past-year peer aggression (n = 160, 84.2%) and past-year violent injury (n = 106, 55.8%). Similar rates of past-year peer aggression, past-year violent injury, alcohol use, and weapon carriage were observed for adolescent males and females presenting with acute assault-related injury. Males and females also reported similar age, race, socioeconomic status, and education levels. As compared to males, females were less likely to report living with a parent (OR 0.25, 95% CI = 0.08 to 0.84), and were more likely to report depressive symptoms (OR 2.59, 95% CI = 1.23 to 5.48) and past-year dating aggression (OR 2.23, 95% CI = 1.04 to 4.82).
Male and female adolescents with acute assault-related injuries were very similar. Both reported extremely high rates of past year peer violence, assault-related injury, and substance use. The greater prevalence of some risk factors among adolescent females, such as depressive symptoms, dating aggression, and independent living status, should be further investigated.
Research in cognition has yielded considerable understanding of the diagnostic reasoning process and its evolution during clinical training. This study sought to determine whether or not this literature could be used to improve the assessment of trainees’ diagnostic skill by manipulating testing conditions that encourage different modes of reasoning.
The authors developed an online, vignette-based instrument with two sets of testing instructions. The “first impression” condition encouraged non-analytic responses while the “directed search” condition prompted structured analytic responses. Subjects encountered six cases under the first impression condition, then six cases under the directed search condition. Each condition had three straightforward (simple), and three ambiguous (complex) cases. Subjects were stratified by clinical experience: novice (third and fourth year medical students), intermediate (post graduate year [PGY] 1 and 2 residents), and experienced (PGY 3 residents and faculty). Two investigators scored the exams independently. Mean diagnostic accuracies were calculated for each group. Differences in diagnostic accuracy and reliability of the examination as a function of the predictor variables were assessed.
The exam was completed by 115 subjects. Diagnostic accuracy was significantly associated with the independent variables of case complexity, clinical experience, and testing condition. Overall, mean diagnostic accuracy and the extent to which the test consistently discriminated between subjects (i.e., yielded reliable scores) was higher when participants were given directed search instructions than when they were given first impression instructions. In addition, the pattern of reliability was found to depend on experience: simple cases offered the best reliability for discriminating between novices, complex cases offered the best reliability for discriminating between intermediate residents, and neither type of case discriminated well between experienced practitioners.
These results yield concrete guidance regarding test construction for the purpose of diagnostic skill assessment. The instruction strategy and complexity of cases selected should depend on the experience level and breadth of experience of the subjects one is attempting to assess.
To identify patient and hospital characteristics associated with the use of computed tomography (CT) imaging of the cervical spine (c-spine) in the evaluation of injured children and, in particular, to examine the influence of hospital setting.
This was a retrospective cohort of children younger than 19 years of age from the Massachusetts Hospital Emergency Department (ED) database who were discharged from the ED with an injury diagnosis from 2005 through 2009. Multivariable logistic regression was used to analyze characteristics associated with CT imaging of the c-spine.
Of the 929,626 pediatric patients diagnosed with an injury in Massachusetts EDs and then discharged home, 1.3% underwent CT imaging of the c-spine. Rates of CT imaging nearly doubled over the five years. In the multivariable model, patient age (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] 2.3, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 2.0 to 2.7 for children age 12 to 18 years vs. under 1 year of age), and evaluation outside of a pediatric Level I trauma center (AOR 2.2, 95% CI = 1.1 to 4.3 for children evaluated at non Level I trauma centers vs. pediatric Level I trauma centers; AOR 2.1, 95% CI = 0.93 to 4.7 for children evaluated at adult Level I trauma centers vs. pediatric Level I trauma centers) were associated with higher rates of CT imaging of the c-spine.
C-spine CT imaging for children discharged from the ED with trauma diagnoses increased from 2005 through 2009. Older age and evaluation outside a Level I pediatric trauma center were associated with a higher c-spine CT rate. Educational interventions focused outside pediatric trauma centers may be an effective approach to decreasing CT imaging of the c-spine of pediatric trauma patients.
Examination of the ocular fundus is imperative in many acute medical and neurologic conditions, but direct ophthalmoscopy by non-ophthalmologists is underutilized, poorly performed, and difficult without pharmacologic pupillary dilation. The objective was to examine the feasibility of non-mydriatic fundus photography as a clinical alternative to direct ophthalmoscopy by emergency physicians (EPs).
Adult patients presenting to the emergency department (ED) with headache, acute focal neurologic deficit, diastolic blood pressure ≥ 120 mmHg, or acute visual change had ocular fundus photographs taken by nurse practitioners using a non-mydriatic fundus camera. Photographs were reviewed by a neuro-ophthalmologist within 24 hours for findings relevant to acute ED patient care. Nurse practitioners and patients rated ease, comfort, and speed of non-mydriatic fundus photography on a 10-point Likert scale (10 best). Timing of visit and photography were recorded by automated electronic systems.
Three hundred fifty patients were enrolled. There were 1,734 photographs taken during 230 nurse practitioner shifts. Eighty-three percent of the 350 patients had at least one eye with a high quality photograph, while only 3% of patients had no photographs of diagnostic value. Mean ratings were ≥ 8.7 (standard deviation [SD] ≤ 1.9) for all measures. The median photography session lasted 1.9 minutes (interquartile range [IQR] 1.3 to 2.9 minutes), typically accounting for less that 0.5% of the patient’s total ED visit.
Non-mydriatic fundus photography taken by nurse practitioners is a feasible alternative to direct ophthalmoscopy in the ED. It is performed well by non-physician staff, is well-received by staff and patients, and requires a trivial amount of time to perform.
Emergency medicine research conducted under the exception from informed consent (EFIC) regulation enables critical scientific advancements. When EFIC is proposed, there is a requirement for broad community consultation and public disclosure regarding the risks and benefits of the study. At the present time, no clear guidelines or standards exist for conducting and evaluating the community consultation and public disclosure.
This preliminary study tested the feasibility and acceptability of a new approach to community consultation and public disclosure for a large-scale EFIC trial by engaging community members in designing and conducting the strategies. The authors enrolled key community members (called Community Advocates for Research, or CARs) to use community-based participatory methods to design and implement community consultation and public disclosure.
By partnering with community members who represent target populations for the research study, this new approach has demonstrated a feasible community consultation and public disclosure plan with greater community participation and less cost than previous studies. In a community survey, the percentage of community members reporting having heard about the EFIC trial more than doubled after employing the new approach. This article discusses initial implementation and results.
Overutilization of computed tomography (CT) is a growing public health concern due to increasing health care costs and exposure to radiation; these must be weighed against the potential benefits of CT for improving diagnoses and treatment plans. The objective of this study was to determine the national trends of CT and ultrasound (US) utilization for assessment of suspected urolithiasis in emergency departments (EDs), and if these trends are accompanied by changes in diagnosis rates for urolithiasis or other significant disorders, and hospitalization rates.
This was a retrospective cross-sectional analysis of ED visits from the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NHAMCS) between 1996 and 2007. The authors determined the proportion of patient visits for flank or kidney pain receiving CT or US testing, and calculated the diagnosis and hospitalization rates for urolithiasis and other significant disorders. Patient-specific and hospital-level variables associated with the use of CT were examined.
Utilization of CT to assess patients with suspected urolithiasis increased from 4.0% to 42.5% over the study period (p-value < 0.001). In contrast, the use of US remained low, at about 5%, until it decreased beginning in 2005 to 2007 to 2.4% (p-value = 0.01). The proportion of patients diagnosed with urolithiasis (approximately 18%, p-value = 0.55), other significant diagnoses (p-values > 0.05), and admitted to the hospital (approximately 11%, p-value = 0.49) did not change significantly. The following characteristics were associated with a higher likelihood of receiving a CT scan: male sex (odd ratio [OR] = 1.83, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.22 to 2.77), patients presenting with severe pain (OR = 2.96, 95% CI = 1.14 to 7.65), and those triaged in 15 minutes or less (OR = 2.41, 95% CI = 1.08 to 5.37). CT utilization was lower for patients presenting to rural hospitals (vs. urban areas) (OR = 0.34, 95% CI = 0.19 to 0.61), and those managed by a non-physician health care provider (OR = 0.19, 95% CI = 0.07 to 0.53).
From 1996 to 2007, there was a 10-fold increase in the utilization of CT scan for patients with suspected kidney stone without an associated change in the proportion of diagnosis of kidney stone, diagnosis of significant alternate diagnoses, or admission to the hospital.
Palliative care focuses on the physical, spiritual, psychological, and social care from diagnosis to cure or death of a potentially life-threatening illness. When cure is not attainable and end of life approaches, the intensity of palliative care is enhanced to deliver the highest quality care experience. The emergency department (ED) frequently cares for patients and families during the end-of-life phase of the palliative care continuum. The intersection between palliative care and emergency care continues to be more clearly defined. Currently, there is a mounting body of evidence to guide the most effective strategies for improving palliative and end-of-life care in the ED. In a workgroup session at the 2009 Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)/American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) conference “Improving the Quality and Efficiency of Emergency Care Across the Continuum: A Systems Approach,” four key research questions arose: 1) which patients are in greatest need of palliative care services in the ED, 2) what is the optimal role of emergency clinicians in caring for patients along a chronic trajectory of illness, 3) how does the integration and initiation of palliative care training and services in the ED setting affect health care utilization, and 4) what are the educational priorities for emergency clinical providers in the domain of palliative care? Workgroup leaders suggest that these four key questions may be answered by strengthening the evidence using six categories of inquiry: descriptive, attitudinal, screening, outcomes, resource allocation, and education of clinicians.