CJEM Articles: asthma
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Variability in the emergency department use of discretionary radiographs in children with common respiratory conditions: the mixed effect of access to pediatrician careJanuary 2013 15 1Astrid Guttmann, Azim Bhamani, Geoffrey Anderson, Michael Weinstein, Peter C. Austin
The objective of this study was to investigate whether different staffing models are associated with variation in radiograph use for children seen for bronchiolitis, croup, and asthma and discharged home from emergency departments (EDs) in Ontario.
We surveyed all Ontario EDs regarding physician staffing models and use of clinical protocols. We used a population-based ED database to determine radiograph rates and patient characteristics. Regression techniques that controlled for patient factors and clustering within EDs were applied.
From April 2004 to March 2006, 5,186, 10,408, and 35,150 children were discharged home from an ED with bronchiolitis, croup, and asthma, respectively. Radiograph rates were 42.7% for bronchiolitis, 10.1% for croup, and 25.9% for asthma. Over 50% of children were treated in EDs with nonpediatric front-line care but with consultant pediatricians available. Compared to children in these settings, those seen in EDs with front-line pediatric staff were less likely to have radiographs for all three conditions (adjusted odds ratios [ORs] 0.47 [95% CI 0.24–0.95], 0.47 [95% CI 0.27–0.82], 0.13 [95% CI 0.02–0.66] for bronchiolitis, croup, and asthma, respectively). Children in community hospitals with pediatricians were significantly more likely to have a radiograph if seen by a consultant pediatrician (OR 1.40, 95% CI 1.20–1.63 [bronchiolitis]; OR 2.76, 95% CI 2.16–3.53 [croup]; and OR 1.97, 95% CI 1.64–2.36 [asthma]). We found no association between clinical protocol use and radiograph rates.
High rates of discretionary radiograph use exist for common respiratory problems of children seen across ED settings. Quality improvement efforts should be focused in this area, and radiograph use in EDs staffed by front-line pediatrics-trained staff could serve as an initial benchmark target for other institutions.
Compliance with the Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians' asthma clinical practice guidelines at a tertiary care emergency departmentJuly 2012 14 4Anthony M. Chahal, David Harriman, J. Mark FitzGerald, Lyne Filiatrault, R. Douglas McKnight, Riyad B. Abu-Laban
Although evidence-based clinical practice guidelines (CPGs) exist, emergency department (ED) asthma management remains highly variable. Our objective was to compare asthma management at a tertiary care ED with that advised by the Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians' (CAEP) asthma CPG and current best practice.
This medical record study enrolled patients between the ages of 19 and 60 years with a previous diagnosis of asthma who were seen for an acute asthma exacerbation at the Vancouver General Hospital ED in 2008. Standard methodology guidelines for medical record review were followed, including explicitly defined criteria and determination of interrater reliability. Primary outcomes were the proportion of cases with the following: objective assessment of severity using peak expiratory flow (PEF), use of systemic corticosteroids (SCSs) in the ED and at discharge, prescription for any inhaled corticosteroids (ICSs), and documentation of outpatient follow-up.
A total of 204 patient encounters were enrolled. Kappa values for interrater assessment ranged from 0.93 to 1.00. Compliance with primary outcomes was as follows: measurement of PEF, 90% (95% CI 85–94); use of SCSs in the ED, 64% (95% CI 57–71); prescription of SCSs at discharge, 59% (95% CI 51–67); prescription of any ICS at discharge, 51% (95% CI 41–61); and documentation of outpatient follow-up, 78% (95% CI 71–84).
This study indicates an improvement in ED asthma care compared to previously published studies; however, discordance still exists between asthma management at a tertiary care ED and the CAEP asthma CPG and current best practice. Further research is warranted to understand the reasons for this finding.
Reid McGonigle, Robert A. Woods
A 36-year-old male with a history of chronic asthma presented to an emergency department with shortness of breath consistent with an asthma exacerbation. He had persistent tachypnea following inhaled bronchodilator treatment; thus, the workup and differential diagnosis were expanded. He was found to have a mixed respiratory alkalosis and metabolic acidosis with elevated serum lactate without an obvious cause and was admitted to hospital. His case was reviewed, and the lactic acidosis was thought to be caused by inhaled β2-agonist use. Emergency physicians should be aware of the potential side effects of inhaled β2-agonists as lactic acidosis may complicate clinical assessment and management of asthma exacerbations and lead to unnecessary and potentially dangerous escalations in therapy.
Effect of inhaled hypertonic saline on hospital admission rate in children with viral bronchiolitis: a randomized trialNovember 2010 12 6Adetayo Adeleye, Bjorn C. Vegsund, Brian A. Kuzik, Carlo Rossi, Charisse W. Kwan, David Zielinski, Michael P. Flavin, Steven Kent
Objective: We sought to determine whether inhaled 3% hypertonic saline (HS) reduces admission to hospital in ambulatory children with moderately severe viral bronchiolitis. Secondary objectives compared changes in respiratory scores before and after treatment and assessed the need for unscheduled medical intervention within 7 days.
Methods: Children under the age of 2 years presenting with moderately severe viral bronchiolitis to the emergency department of 4 general hospitals from November 2008 to March 2009 were randomly assigned to receive 3 consecutive 4-mL doses of nebulized 3% HS (treatment group) or 0.9% normal saline (NS; control group) in a double blind fashion, each coadministered with 1 mg salbutamol. Outcome measures included the difference in hospital admission rate and changes in respiratory distress scores.
Results: A total of 81 children (mean age 8.9 mo, range 0.7-22 mo) were assessed over 88 visits on an intention-to-treat basis. No statistically significant differences were found between treatment groups. Children in the HS group had a nonsignificant trend toward greater improvement compared with NS controls with a same-day admission rate of 18% (95% confidence interval [CI] 9%-32%) versus 27% (95% CI 16%-42%), respectively. Respiratory Assessment Change Scores (RACS) favoured the HS group over NS controls (mean RACS 4.7 [95% CI 3.6-5.8] v. 3.7 [95% CI 2.5-4.9], respectively), although the CIs overlap and these differences were not statistically significant.
Conclusion: The short-term use of nebulized 3% HS did not result in any statistically significant benefits, although a nonsignificant trend toward a decrease in admission rate and improvement in respiratory distress was found. A larger study would be required to determine whether these trends arise from a clinically relevant treatment effect.
Registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00677729, May 2008.
Ambikaipakan Senthilselvan, Brian H. Rowe, Donald C. Voaklander, Rhonda J. Rosychuk, Terry P. Klassen, Thomas J. Marrie
Objective: We describe the epidemiology of asthma presentations to emergency departments (EDs) for 3 main regions in the province of Alberta.
Methods: We used a comprehensive ED database to identify ED visits in Alberta from April 1999 to March 2005. We linked the visits to other provincial administrative databases to obtain all data on follow-up encounters for asthma during that period. Information extracted included demographics, regions of residence (Edmonton, Calgary or non–major urban [NMU]), timing of ED visits, and subsequent visits to non-ED settings. Data analysis included descriptive summaries and directly standardized visit rates.
Results: During the 6-year study period, 93 146 patients made 199 991 ED visits for asthma. Crude rates in 2004/05 were 7.9/1000, 6.5/1000 and 15.4/1000 in the Edmonton, Calgary and NMU regions, respectively. The Edmonton and Calgary regions had consistently lower visit rates than the NMU regions. The ED visits were followed by low rates of follow-up visits in a variety of non-ED settings, at different intervals.
Conclusion: Asthma is a relatively common presenting problem in Alberta EDs. This study identified relatively stable rates of presentation during the study period, and variation among regions in terms of age and sex. This study provides further understanding of the variation associated with ED presentation and indicates possible targets for specific interventions to reduce asthma-related ED visits.
Andrew G. Day, Brianna Julien, Jennifer Olajos-Clow, Kim Szpiro, M. Diane Lougheed, Miao Wang, Patricia Moyse
Objective: We sought to determine whether a standardized emergency department (ED) asthma care pathway (ACP) for adults would be accepted by ED staff, improve adherence to Canadian ED asthma management guidelines and improve patient outcomes.
Methods: Ten Ontario hospital EDs (5 intervention, 5 control) participated in a 5-month pre-post intervention study. Emergency department management, admissions, repeat ED visits and ED length of stay were compared between sites and by ACP use versus nonuse at intervention sites.
Results: The ACP was used in 101 of 383 visits (26.4%) at 5 intervention sites. Use of the ACP varied significantly between sites, ranging from 6% to 60% (p < 0.001). When compared with control sites, there were significant increases in the use of metered dose inhalers (MDIs), inhaled steroids, referrals, documentation of teaching, patient recollection of teaching (all with a p < 0.001) and oxygen (p = 0.001). Use of peak expiratory flow rate (PEFR) measurements decreased in both intervention and control sites. Increased PEFR documentation and systemic steroid use in the ED and on discharge were only found in patients who were on the ACP at intervention sites. Admissions increased from 3.9% to 9.4% at intervention sites in contrast to control sites, where they remained fairly stable (p = 0.016), but did not differ by ACP use. The length of stay for discharged patients increased by a mean of 16 minutes for ACP patients at intervention sites (p = 0.002). There were no statistically significant differences in repeat ED visits.
Conclusion: Adoption of a standardized ED ACP for adults is highly variable. Despite modest uptake, which averaged 26%, beneficial changes in specific aspects of asthma care delivery were found, notably in referrals and recollection of teaching done during the ED visit, without a substantial increase in ED length of stay. These changes may lead to improvements in outcomes, such as reduced relapse rates, which this study was not designed or powered to detect. Provincial and national implementation strategies that address barriers to clinical pathway adoption are warranted and have the potential to improve adherence to guidelines and outcomes for asthma patients.
Changing the process of care and practice in acute asthma in the emergency department: experience with an asthma care map in a regional hospitalSeptember 2007 9 5Ambikaipakan Senthilselvan, Brian H. Rowe, Carol H. Spooner, Duncan Mackey, Harris Lari, Leslie Tyler, Marlene Myles, Sandra Blitz
Introduction: Despite the frequency of acute asthma in the emergency department (ED) and the availability of guidelines, significant practice variation exists. Asthma care maps (ACMs) may standardize treatment. This study examined the use of an ACM to determine its effects on patient management in a regional hospital.
Methods: Patients aged 2 to 65 years who presented to the ED with a primary diagnosis of acute asthma were enrolled in a prospective study that took place 5 months before (pre) and 5 months after (post) ACM implementation. Research assistants using a standardized questionnaire abstracted data through direct patient interviews and then followed up at 2 weeks with a standardized telephone interview.
Results: Overall, 71 pre patients and 70 post patients were enrolled. Characteristics in both groups were similar. The care map was used in 100% of the cases during the post period. The mean length of stay in the ED for the pre, compared with the post period, was similar (2 h 14 min v. 2 h 25 min; p = 0.60), as were admission rates (11% v. 9%; p = 0.59). Systemic corticosteroid use was similar (62% v. 57%; p = 0.56); however, the total number of β-agonists (2 v. 4 treatments; p = 0.002) and anticholinergics (1 v. 2 treatments; p < 0.001) administered in the ED was higher during the post period. Prescriptions for oral (73% v. 60%; p = 0.15) and inhaled (78% v. 78%; p = 0.98) corticosteroids at discharge remained the same. Relapse rates at follow-up were unchanged (29% v. 34%; p = 0.52).
Conclusion: This study provides evidence that implementation of an ACM increased acute bronchodilator use; however, prescribing preventive medications did not increase. Further research is required to evaluate other strategies to improve asthma care by emergency physicians.
Nebulized racemic epinephrine used in the treatment of severe asthmatic exacerbation: a case report and literature reviewJuly 2007 9 4Brian H. Rowe, Kristopher Wiebe
Acute asthma is a common emergency department (ED) problem that is typically treated with bronchodilators and anti-inflammatories. Nebulized selective, short-acting β-agonists, such as salbutamol, are the bronchodilators of choice in most Canadian EDs. Other important treatments in moderate-to-severe cases include systemic corticosteroids and in severe cases may include the addition of ipratropium bromide and magnesium sulfate. Despite aggressive management, some patients do not respond adequately to nebulized salbutamol. Treatment options in these patients are limited to interventions such as parenteral epinephrine, and non-invasive and mechanical ventilation (or both). Both parenteral epinephrine and mechanical ventilation have associated risks, so alternative treatments with a lower risk profile would be useful for the treatment of life-threatening asthma. The following case report describes a patient in whom nebulized racemic epinephrine was used successfully to treat severe acute asthma following failure of standard first-line therapies.
Compliance with guidelines for emergency management of asthma in adults: experience at a tertiary care teaching hospitalSeptember 2004 6 5Brent Crawford, Russell D. MacDonald, Valerie F. Krym
Objectives: Despite evidence-based clinical practice guidelines for the emergency management of asthma, substantial treatment variation exists. Our objective was to assess compliance with the Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians (CAEP) / Canadian Thoracic Society (CTS) Asthma Advisory Committee's "Guidelines for the emergency management of asthma in adults" in the emergency department (ED) of a university-affiliated tertiary care teaching hospital.
Methods: This retrospective study was conducted in a Canadian inner city adult ED. Investigators reviewed all ED records for the period from Jan. 1, 2001, to Dec. 31, 2001, and identified adult patients (i.e.,
>18 years of age) with a primary ED diagnosis of asthma. Hospital records were then reviewed to document compliance with the CAEP/CTS asthma guidelines. Descriptive statistics, including means, standard deviations and frequencies were used to summarize information.
Results: Overall compliance with the guidelines was 69.6%, (95% confidence interval, 64.7%-74.5%), but compliance ranged from 41.4% for severe asthma, 67.1% for moderate asthma, and 88.6% for mild asthma. Interobserver reliability for compliance assessment was excellent.
Conclusions: Despite publication and dissemination of evidence-based guidelines for the management of acute asthma in adults, guideline compliance at a university-affiliated, inner city, tertiary care teaching hospital ED is suboptimal.