Canadian pediatric emergency department visits are increasing, with a disproportionate increase in low-acuity visits locally (33% of volume in 2008-09, 41% in 2011-12). We sought to understand: 1) presentation patterns and resource implications; 2) parents’ perceptions and motivations; and 3) alternate health care options considered prior to presenting with low-acuity problems.
We conducted a prospective cohort study at our tertiary pediatric emergency department serving two provinces to explore differences between patients with and without a primary care provider. During four, 2-week study periods over 1 year, parents of low-acuity visits received an anonymous survey. Presentation times, interventions, diagnoses and dispositions were captured on a data collection form linked to the survey by study number.
Parents completed 2,443 surveys (74.1% response rate), with survey-data collection form pairs available for 2,146 visits. Overall, 89.7% of respondents had a primary care provider; 68% were family physicians. Surprisingly, 40% of visits occurred during weekday office hours and 27.3% occurred within 4 hours of symptom onset; 67.5% of those early presenters were for injuries. Few parents sought care from their primary care provider (25%), health information line (20.7%), or urgent care clinic (18.5%); 36% reported that they believed their child’s problem required the emergency department. Forty-five percent required only a history, physical exam and reassurance; only 11% required an intervention not available in an office setting. Patients without a primary care provider were significantly more likely to present during weekday office hours (p = 0.003), have longer symptom duration (p<0.001), and not know of other options (p = 0.001).
Many parents seek pediatric emergency department care for low-acuity problems despite their child having a primary care provider. Ensuring timely access to these providers may help reduce pediatric emergency department overuse. Educational initiatives should inform parents about low-acuity problems and where appropriate care can/should be accessed.
Sleep-disordered breathing (SDB) is prevalent in children and is associated with significant comorbidity.
To describe paediatric sleep physician and diagnostic testing resources for SDB in Canadian children.
A 38-item, Internet-based survey was sent to the 32 members of the Canadian Pediatric Sleep Network (CPSN). A shorter telephone survey was administered to all 182 non-CPSN sleep laboratories across Canada.
Responses were obtained from 29 of 31 (91%) CPSN members and 121 of 182 (66%) non-CPSN sleep facilities. Sixty-seven of 121 (55%) of the responding non-CPSN facilities reported that they see children <18 years of age. Thirty-six of 121 (30%) and 23 of 121 (19%), respectively, see children ≤12 years of age or ≤8 years of age. Marked disparities across provinces/territories were observed, with no practitioners or polysomnography in the Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador. Alberta has the smallest ratio of children to practitioners (approximately 167,000 to 1) and Ontario has the smallest ratio of children to polysomnograms performed per year (approximately 487,000 to 1). Reported wait times for polysomnography ranged from <1 month, to 1.5 to 2 years. In paediatric tertiary care centres, the number of polysomnograms performed per year ranged from 55 to 700 (median 480) and in other laboratories the range was 400 to 4000 (median 1100).
The present study demonstrates a significant lack of resources and services for paediatric SDB care across Canada, with pronounced geographical disparities. Even if only affected children were tested with polysomnography, the authors estimate there are 7.5 times more children with SDB than current testing capacity.
Health services; Paediatrics; Polysomnography; Respirology; Sleep clinic; Sleep physicians; Survey
Antimicrobial use is very common in hospitalized children. An assessment of clinician’s prevailing knowledge and clinical approach to prescribing antimicrobials is helpful in order to develop the best strategies for successful stewardship programs. The objectives of the study were to determine fundamental knowledge of principles, approach to antimicrobial use through the clinical vignettes and to identify perceived challenges in decreasing antimicrobial use.
A questionnaire was developed by subject matter experts and pretested to ensure validity. Using a cross-sectional prospective design, the questionnaire was completed anonymously by staff and trainee physicians at a single tertiary care pediatric hospital between late November 2011 and February 2012.
Of 159 eligible physicians, 86 (54.1%) responded, of which 77 (46 staff and 31 trainees) reported regularly prescribing antimicrobials. The majority of physicians had modest knowledge of factors that would increase risk of resistance however, less than 20% had correct knowledge of local resistance patterns for common bacteria. Almost half of physicians correctly answered the clinical vignettes. Over half of trainees and one third of staff relied most on online manuals for information regarding antimicrobials to assist prescription decision-making. Overall, physicians perceived that discontinuing empiric antimicrobials was the most difficult to achieve to decrease antibiotic use.
Our results highlight several challenges that pediatric practioners face with respect to knowledge and approach to antimicrobial prescribing. Pediatric stewardship programs could in this setting focus on discontinuing antimicrobials appropriately and promoting local antibiograms in the proper clinical setting to decrease overall use of antimicrobials.
Antimicrobial stewardship; Pediatrics; Knowledge
Continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) has been shown to improve glucose control in adults with type 1 diabetes. Effectiveness of CGM is directly linked with CGM adherence, which can be challenging to maintain in children and adolescents. We hypothesize that initiating CGM at the same time as starting insulin pump therapy in pump naïve children and adolescents with type 1 diabetes will result in greater CGM adherence and effectiveness compared to delaying CGM introduction by 6 months, and that this is related to greater readiness for making behaviour change at the time of pump initiation.
The CGM TIME Trial is a multicenter randomized controlled trial. Eligible children and adolescents (5-18 years) with established type 1 diabetes were randomized to simultaneous initiation of pump (Medtronic Veo©) and CGM (Enlite©) or to standard pump therapy with delayed CGM introduction. Primary outcomes are CGM adherence and hemoglobin A1C at 6 and 12 months post pump initiation. Secondary outcomes include glycemic variability, stage of readiness, and other patient-reported outcomes with follow-up to 24 months. 144 (95%) of the 152 eligible patients were enrolled and randomized. Allowing for 10% withdrawals, this will provide 93% power to detect a between group difference in CGM adherence and 86% power to detect a between group difference in hemoglobin A1C. Baseline characteristics were similar between the treatment groups. Analysis of 12 month primary outcomes will begin in September 2014.
The CGM TIME Trial is the first study to examine the relationship between timing of CGM initiation, readiness for behaviour change, and subsequent CGM adherence in pump naïve children and adolescents. Its findings will advance our understanding of when and how to initiate CGM in children and adolescents with type 1 diabetes.
ClinicalTrial.gov NCT01295788. Registered 14 February 2011.
Continuous glucose monitoring; Continuous subcutaneous insulin infusion; Type 1 diabetes; Adherence; Pediatrics; Glycosylated hemoglobin; Children; Adolescents; Quality of life; Treatment satisfaction
Neck circumference (NC), is an emerging marker of obesity and associated disease risk, but is challenging to use as a screening tool in children, as age and sex standardized cutoffs have not been determined. A population-based sample of NC in Canadian children was collected, and age- and sex-specific reference curves for NC were developed.
NC, waist circumference (WC), weight and height were measured on participants aged 6–17 years in cycle 2 of the Canadian Health Measures Survey. Quantile regression of NC versus age in males and females was used to obtain NC percentiles. Linear regression was used to examine association between NC, body mass index (BMI) and WC. NC was compared in healthy weight (BMI < 85th percentile) and overweight/obese (BMI > 85th percentile) subjects.
The sample included 936 females and 977 males. For all age and sex groups, NC was larger in overweight/obese children (p < 0.0001). For each additional unit of BMI, average NC in males was 0.49 cm higher and in females, 0.43 cm higher. For each additional cm of WC, average NC in males was 0.18 cm higher and in females, 0.17 cm higher.
This study presents the first reference data on Canadian children’s NC. The reference curves may have future clinical applicability in identifying children at risk of central obesity-associated conditions and thresholds associated with disease risk.
Epidemiology; Sleep medicine; Neck circumference; Anthropometric measures; Obesity
To determine the practice patterns of Canadian hematologists and neonatologists/paediatricians who care for newborns with hemophilia, with regard to vitamin K administration, use of empirical clotting factor replacement therapy, neuroimaging and timing of hematology consultation.
Hematologists and neonatologists/paediatricians, identified from membership lists of Canadian professional organizations, were provided electronic and/or paper versions of the survey instrument. Questions were posed in the context of specific clinical scenarios. Differences in response proportions between groups were compared for selected questions.
There were 171 respondents among 616 eligible persons who were sent the survey; 58 respondents had recent experience managing a newborn with hemophilia. There was a consensus not to provide empirical treatment to well newborns after uncomplicated deliveries, to provide empirical treatment to symptomatic newborns and to obtain neuroimaging for symptomatic newborns. Systematic differences between hematologists and neonatologists/paediatricians existed with regard to the timing of hematology consultation when the diagnosis of hemophilia had not been confirmed antenatally, the route of vitamin K administration for newborns with hemophilia and the choice of product to use for empirical treatment of a symptomatic newborn.
The observed lack of consensus regarding important management decisions indicates a need for ongoing research in the care of newborns with hemophilia. Systematic differences between hematologists and neonatologists/paediatricians suggest a role for improved communication and collaboration between these two groups of practitioners.
Hemophilia A; Hemophilia B; Intracranial hemorrhages; Neuroimaging; Newborn
Little is known about the microbiology of diarrhoeal disease in Canada's Arctic regions. There are a number of limitations of conventional microbiology testing techniques for diarrhoeal pathogens, and these may be further compromised in the Arctic, given the often long distances for specimen transport.
To develop a novel multiple-target nanolitre real-time reverse transcriptase (RT)-PCR platform to simultaneously test diarrhoeal specimens collected from residents of the Qikiqtani (Baffin Island) Region of Nunavut, Canada, for a wide range of bacterial, parasitic and viral agents.
Diarrhoeal stool samples submitted for bacterial culture to Qikiqtani General Hospital in Nunavut over an 18-month period were tested with a multiple-target nanolitre real-time PCR panel for major diarrhoeal pathogens including 8 bacterial, 6 viral and 2 parasitic targets.
Among 86 stool specimens tested by PCR, a total of 50 pathogens were detected with 1 or more pathogens found in 40 (46.5%) stool specimens. The organisms detected comprised 17 Cryptosporidium spp., 5 Clostridium difficile with toxin B, 6 Campylobacter spp., 6 Salmonella spp., 4 astroviruses, 3 noroviruses, 1 rotavirus, 1 Shigella spp. and 1 Giardia spp. The frequency of detection by PCR and bacterial culture was similar for Salmonella spp., but discrepant for Campylobacter spp., as Campylobacter was detected by culture from only 1/86 specimens. Similarly, Cryptosporidium spp. was detected in multiple samples by PCR but was not detected by microscopy or enzyme immunoassay.
Cryptosporidium spp., Campylobacter spp. and Clostridium difficile may be relatively common but possibly under-recognised pathogens in this region. Further study is needed to determine the regional epidemiology and clinical significance of these organisms. This method appears to be a useful tool for gastrointestinal pathogen research and may also be helpful for clinical diagnostics and outbreak investigation in remote regions where the yield of routine testing may be compromised.
multiplex real-time PCR; detection; pathogens; Campylobacter spp.; Cryptosporidium spp.; Clostridium difficile; viral agents; diarrhoea; gastroenteritis; Nunavut; Arctic
Community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) is a common cause of pediatric admission to hospital. The objectives of this study were twofold: 1) to describe the clinical characteristics of CAP in children admitted to a tertiary care pediatric hospital in the pneumococcal vaccination era and, 2) to examine the antimicrobial selection in hospital and on discharge.
A retrospective review of healthy immunocompetent children admitted to a tertiary pediatric hospital from January 2007 to December 2008 with clinical features consistent with pneumonia and a radiographically-confirmed consolidation was performed. Clinical, microbiological and antimicrobial data were collected.
One hundred and thirty-five hospitalized children with pneumonia were evaluated. Mean age at admission was 4.8 years (range 0–17 years). Two thirds of patients had been seen by a physician in the 24 hours prior to presentation; 56 (41.5%) were on antimicrobials at admission. 52 (38.5%) of patients developed an effusion, and 22/52 (42.3%) had pleural fluid sampled. Of 117 children who had specimens (blood/pleural fluid) cultured, 9 (7.7%) had pathogens identified (7 Streptococcus pneumoniae, 1 Group A Streptococcus, and 1 Rhodococcus). 55% of patients received 2 or more antimicrobials in hospital. Cephalosporins were given to 130 patients (96.1%) in hospital. Only 21/126 patients (16.7%) were discharged on amoxicillin. The median length of stay was 3 days (IQR 2–4) for those without effusion and 9 (IQR 5–13) for those with effusion. No deaths were related to pneumonia.
This study provides comprehensive data on the clinical characteristics of hospitalized children with CAP in the pneumococcal 7-valent vaccine era. Empiric antimicrobial choice at our institution is variable, highlighting a need for heightened antimicrobial stewardship.
Literacy is a critical health issue in Canada. Paediatricians play an important role in improving literacy skills; however, formal training in literacy education and promotion is not currently part of most Canadian paediatric residency programs.
To examine the attitudes and practice of paediatricians and residents at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO [Ottawa, Ontario]) toward literacy promotion.
A descriptive, cross-sectional survey of CHEO-affiliated paediatricians, residents and fellows was performed. Survey items addressed demographics, attitudes toward literacy, current practice and previous education/training in literacy education through self-reporting.
One hundred ninety-seven surveys were distributed, with a response rate of 82%. Ninety-one per cent of respondents reported never having formal training in literacy development and promotion. Seventy-four per cent of respondents believed that low literacy is a significant health issue in Canada; however, only 16% of respondents reported regularly discussing literacy with patients and their families. Thirty-nine per cent of general paediatricians reported discussing literacy with patients and families regularly, compared with 10% of paediatric subspecialists (P<0.01). Seventy-one per cent of respondents believed that literacy education should be a standard part of residency education.
While most respondents identified literacy as an important paediatric issue, most paediatricians did not regularly discuss the importance of literacy with their patients. General paediatricians are most likely to discuss literacy. There is a lack of formal education among paediatricians in literacy development and promotion, and the majority of respondents believe that this should be a standard part of paediatric residency training.
Advocacy; Literacy; Medical education; Reading
To demonstrate the use of risk-benefit analysis for comparing multiple competing interventions in the absence of randomized trials, we applied this approach to the evaluation of five anticoagulants to prevent thrombosis in patients undergoing orthopedic surgery.
Using a cost-effectiveness approach from a clinical perspective (i.e. risk benefit analysis) we compared thromboprophylaxis with warfarin, low molecular weight heparin, unfractionated heparin, fondaparinux or ximelagatran in patients undergoing major orthopedic surgery, with sub-analyses according to surgery type. Proportions and variances of events defining risk (major bleeding) and benefit (thrombosis averted) were obtained through a meta-analysis and used to define beta distributions. Monte Carlo simulations were conducted and used to calculate incremental risks, benefits, and risk-benefit ratios. Finally, net clinical benefit was calculated for all replications across a range of risk-benefit acceptability thresholds, with a reference range obtained by estimating the case fatality rate - ratio of thrombosis to bleeding.
The analysis showed that compared to placebo ximelagatran was superior to other options but final results were influenced by type of surgery, since ximelagatran was superior in total knee replacement but not in total hip replacement.
Using simulation and economic techniques we demonstrate a method that allows comparing multiple competing interventions in the absence of randomized trials with multiple arms by determining the option with the best risk-benefit profile. It can be helpful in clinical decision making since it incorporates risk, benefit, and personal risk acceptance.
Risk-Benefit Analysis; Decision Making; Meta-Analysis; Methods; Monte Carlo Method; Risk; indirect comparison
Rapid diagnosis of GAS pharyngitis may improve patient care by ensuring that patients with GAS pharyngitis are treated quickly and also avoiding unnecessary use of antibiotics in those without GAS infection. Very few molecular methods for detection of GAS in clinical throat swab specimens have been described.
We performed a study of a laboratory-developed internally-controlled rapid Group A streptococcus (GAS) PCR assay using flocked swab throat specimens. We compared the GAS PCR assay to GAS culture results using a collection of archived throat swab samples obtained during a study comparing the performance of conventional and flocked throat swabs.
The sensitivity of the GAS PCR assay as compared to the reference standard was 96.0% (95% CI 90.1% to 98.4%), specificity 98.6% (95% CI 95.8% to 99.5%), positive predictive value (PPV) 96.9% (95% CI 91.4% to 99.0%) and negative predictive value (NPV) of 98.1% (95% CI 95.2% to 99.2%). For conventional swab cultures, sensitivity was 96.0% (95% CI 90.1% to 98.4%), specificity 100% (95% CI 98.2% to 100%), PPV 100%, (95% CI 96.1% to 100%) and NPV 98.1% (95% CI 95.2% to 99.3%)
In this retrospective study, the GAS PCR assay appeared to perform as well as conventional throat swab culture, the current standard of practice. Since the GAS PCR assay, including DNA extraction, can be performed in approximately 1 hour, prospective studies of this assay are warranted to evaluate the clinical impact of the assay on management of patients with pharyngitis.
PCR; rapid; internally-controlled; LCGreen; Group A Streptococcus; pharyngitis; flocked swab
translocation 11;22; breast cancer; melanoma; esophageal cancer
We compared the performance of flocked swabs to that of traditional swabs for culture of beta-hemolytic streptococci in children with pharyngitis. Sensitivity was higher for flocked swabs, but this did not reach statistical significance. We conclude that flocked swabs can be used in place of traditional swabs for diagnosis of streptococcal pharyngitis.
Search filters or hedges play an important role in evidence-based medicine but their development depends on the availability of a "gold standard" – a reference standard against which to establish the performance of the filter. We demonstrate the feasibility of using relative recall of included studies from multiple systematic reviews to validate methodological search filters as an alternative to validation against a gold standard formed through hand searching.
We identified 105 Cochrane reviews that used the Highly Sensitive Search Strategy (HSSS), included randomized or quasi-randomized controlled trials, and reported their included studies. We measured the ability of two published and one novel variant of the HSSS to retrieve the MEDLINE-index studies included in these reviews.
The systematic reviews were comprehensive in their searches. 72% of included primary studies were indexed in MEDLINE. Relative recall of the three strategies ranged from .98 to .91 across all reviews and more comprehensive strategies showed higher recall.
An approach using relative recall instead of a hand searching gold standard proved feasible and produced recall figures that were congruent with previously published figures for the HSSS. This technique would permit validation of a methodological filter using a collection of approximately 100 studies of the chosen design drawn from the included studies of multiple systematic reviews that used comprehensive search strategies.
Most electronic search efforts directed at identifying primary studies for inclusion in systematic reviews rely on the optimal Boolean search features of search interfaces such as DIALOG® and Ovid™. Our objective is to test the ability of an Ultraseek® search engine to rank MEDLINE® records of the included studies of Cochrane reviews within the top half of all the records retrieved by the Boolean MEDLINE search used by the reviewers.
Collections were created using the MEDLINE bibliographic records of included and excluded studies listed in the review and all records retrieved by the MEDLINE search. Records were converted to individual HTML files. Collections of records were indexed and searched through a statistical search engine, Ultraseek, using review-specific search terms. Our data sources, systematic reviews published in the Cochrane library, were included if they reported using at least one phase of the Cochrane Highly Sensitive Search Strategy (HSSS), provided citations for both included and excluded studies and conducted a meta-analysis using a binary outcome measure. Reviews were selected if they yielded between 1000–6000 records when the MEDLINE search strategy was replicated.
Nine Cochrane reviews were included. Included studies within the Cochrane reviews were found within the first 500 retrieved studies more often than would be expected by chance. Across all reviews, recall of included studies into the top 500 was 0.70. There was no statistically significant difference in ranking when comparing included studies with just the subset of excluded studies listed as excluded in the published review.
The relevance ranking provided by the search engine was better than expected by chance and shows promise for the preliminary evaluation of large results from Boolean searches. A statistical search engine does not appear to be able to make fine discriminations concerning the relevance of bibliographic records that have been pre-screened by systematic reviewers.
As an increasingly large number of meta-analyses are published, quantitative methods are needed to help clinicians and systematic review teams determine when meta-analyses are not up to date.
We propose new methods for determining when non-significant meta-analytic results might be overturned, based on a prediction of the number of participants required in new studies. To guide decision making, we introduce the "new participant ratio", the ratio of the actual number of participants in new studies to the predicted number required to obtain statistical significance. A simulation study was conducted to study the performance of our methods and a real meta-analysis provides further evidence.
In our three simulation configurations, our diagnostic test for determining whether a meta-analysis is out of date had sensitivity of 55%, 62%, and 49% with corresponding specificity of 85%, 80%, and 90% respectively.
Simulations suggest that our methods are able to detect out-of-date meta-analyses. These quick and approximate methods show promise for use by systematic review teams to help decide whether to commit the considerable resources required to update a meta-analysis. Further investigation and evaluation of the methods is required before they can be recommended for general use.
There has been increasing concern regarding the potential effects of the commercialization of research.
In order to examine the relationships between funding source, trial outcome and reporting quality, recent issues of five peer-reviewed, high impact factor, general medical journals were hand-searched to identify a sample of 100 randomized controlled trials (20 trials/journal). Relevant data, including funding source (industry/not-for-profit/mixed/not reported) and statistical significance of primary outcome (favouring new treatment/favouring conventional treatment/neutral/unclear), were abstracted. Quality scores were assigned using the Jadad scale and the adequacy of allocation concealment.
Sixty-six percent of trials received some industry funding. Trial outcome was not associated with funding source (p= .461). There was a preponderance of favourable statistical conclusions among published trials with 67% reporting results that favored a new treatment whereas 6% favoured the conventional treatment. Quality scores were not associated with funding source or trial outcome.
It is not known whether the absence of significant associations between funding source, trial outcome and reporting quality reflects a true absence of an association or is an artefact of inadequate statistical power, reliance on voluntary disclosure of funding information, a focus on trials recently published in the top medical journals, or some combination thereof. Continued and expanded monitoring of potential conflicts is recommended, particularly in light of new guidelines for disclosure that have been endorsed by the ICMJE.
Acute hematogenous osteomyelitis (AHO) occurs primarily in children and is believed to evolve from bacteremia followed by localization of infection to the metaphysis of bones. Currently, there is no consensus on the route and duration of antimicrobial therapy to treat AHO.
We conducted a systematic review of a short versus long course of treatment for AHO due primarily to Staphylococcus aureus in children aged 3 months to 16 years. We searched Medline, Embase and the Cochrane trials registry for controlled trials. Clinical cure rate at 6 months was the primary outcome variable, and groups receiving less than 7 days of intravenous therapy were compared with groups receiving one week or longer of intravenous antimicrobials.
12 eligible prospective studies, one of which was randomized, were identified. The overall cure rate at 6 months for the short course of intravenous therapy was 95.2% (95% CI = 90.4, 97.7) compared to 98.8% (95% CI = 93.6, 99.8) for the longer course of therapy. There was no significant difference in the duration of oral therapy between the two groups.
Given the potential increased morbidity and cost associated with longer courses of intravenous therapy, this finding should be confirmed through a randomized controlled equivalence trial.