Risk factors for admission at three urban emergency departments in England

An investigation into factors associated with unscheduled admission following presentation to emergency departments (EDs) at three hospitals in England | BMJ Open


Design and setting: Cross-sectional analysis of attendance data for patients from three urban EDs in England: a large teaching hospital and major trauma centre (site 1) and two district general hospitals (sites 2 and 3). Variables included patient age, gender, ethnicity, deprivation score, arrival date and time, arrival by ambulance or otherwise, a variety of ED workload measures, inpatient bed occupancy rates and admission outcome. Coding inconsistencies in routine ED data used for this study meant that diagnosis could not be included.

Results: Outcome data were available for 19 721 attendances (>99%), of whom 6263 (32%) were admitted to hospital. Site 1 was set as the baseline site for analysis of admission risk. Risk of admission was significantly greater at sites 2 and 3 (adjusted OR (AOR) relative to site 1 for site 2 was 1.89, 95% CI 1.74 to 2.05, p<0.001) and for patients of black or black British ethnicity (AOR 1.29, 1.16 to 1.44, p<0.001). Deprivation was strongly associated with admission. Analysis of departmental and hospital-wide workload pressures gave conflicting results, but proximity to the “4-hour target” (a rule that limits patient stays in EDs to 4 hours in the National Health Service in England) emerged as a strong driver for admission in this analysis (AOR 3.61, 95% CI 3.30 to 3.95, p<0.001).

Conclusion: This study found statistically significant variations in odds of admission between hospital sites when adjusting for various patient demographic and presentation factors, suggesting important variations in ED-level and clinician-level behaviour relating to admission decisions. The 4-hour target is a strong driver for emergency admission.

Full reference: Ismail, S.A. et al. (2017) Risk factors for admission at three urban emergency departments in England: a cross-sectional analysis of attendances over 1 month. BMJ Open. 7:e011547

Prevalence of non-accidental trauma among children at ACS verified pediatric trauma centers

Child abuse remains a national epidemic that has detrimental effects if unnoticed in the clinical setting | Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery

Background: Extreme cases of child abuse, or non-accidental trauma (NAT), have large financial burdens associated with them due to treatment costs and long-term effects of abuse. Clinicians that have additional training and experience with pediatric trauma are better equipped to detect signs of NAT and have more experience reporting it. This additional training and experience can be measured by using the American College of Surgeons (ACS) Pediatric Trauma Verification. It is hypothesized that ACS verified Pediatric Trauma Centers (vPTCs) have an increased prevalence of NAT due to this additional experience and training when relative to non-ACS vPTCs.


Conclusions: The greater prevalence of NAT at vPTCs likely represents a more accurate measure of NAT among pediatric trauma patients, likely due to more experience and training of clinicians.

Full reference: Bogumil, D.D.A. et al. (2017) Prevalence of non-accidental trauma among children at ACS verified pediatric trauma centers. Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery: Published online: 20 June 2017


Ultrasound for children with abdominal trauma

Despite evidence showing that the routine use of sonography in hospital emergency departments can safely improve care for adults when evaluating for possible abdominal trauma injuries, researchers at UC Davis Medical Center could not identify any significant improvements in care for pediatric trauma patients | ScienceDaily

banner-1571999_960_720 (1).jpg

The findings, which resulted from a randomized clinical study involving 925 children with blunt torso trauma who were evaluated in the emergency department at the medical center, showed no difference in important clinical outcomes. The outcomes assessed were developed for the study mainly based on previous research in injured adults.

The UC Davis team investigated the Focused Assessment with Sonography for Trauma (FAST) to determine whether the use of the FAST examination could safely lead to a decrease in the use of computed tomography (CT) scans for children, and other outcomes. FAST is a bedside ultrasound examination using a portable ultrasound machine. It has not been routinely used in the initial emergency department evaluations of injured children. CT scans represent the “gold standard” in diagnostic imaging for clinicians, including the identification of intra-abdominal injuries, but they also pose a greater radiation risk for children than they do for adults.

The role of nurses’ clinical impression in the first assessment of children at the emergency department

This study explores the diagnostic value and determinants of nurses’ clinical impression for the recognition of children with a serious illness on presentation to the emergency department (ED) | Archives of Disease in Childhood

Main outcome measures: Diagnostic accuracy of nurses’ clinical impression for the prediction of serious illness, defined by intensive care unit (ICU) and hospital admission. Determinants of nurses’ impression that a child appeared ill.

Results: Nurses considered a total of 1279 (20.0%) children appearing ill. Sensitivity of nurses’ clinical impression for the recognition of patients requiring ICU admission was 0.70 (95% CI 0.62 to 0.76) and specificity was 0.81 (95% CI 0.80 to 0.82). Sensitivity for hospital admission was 0.48 (95% CI 0.45 to 0.51) and specificity was 0.88 (95% CI 0.87 to 0.88). When adjusted for age, gender, triage urgency and abnormal vital signs, nurses’ impression remained significantly associated with ICU (OR 4.54; 95% CI 3.09 to 6.66) and hospital admission (OR 4.00; 95% CI 3.40 to 4.69). Ill appearance was positively associated with triage urgency, fever and abnormal vital signs and negatively with self-referral and presentation outside of office hours.

Conclusion: The overall clinical impression of experienced nurses at the ED is on its own, not an accurate predictor of serious illness in children, but provides additional information above some well-established and objective predictors of illness severity.

Full reference: Zachariasse, J.M. et al. (2017)  The role of nurses’ clinical impression in the first assessment of children at the emergency department. Archives of Disease in Childhood. Published Online First: 10 June 2017

Combination inhaler treatment in emergency departments may reduce admissions for asthma attacks

Using a combination of two inhaled drugs to open the airways may modestly reduce the need to admit an adult with asthma attack to hospital, though the underlying evidence is weak | NIHR Signal

The first-line treatment for an asthma attack is an inhaled β2 agonist, like salbutamol. This Cochrane review compared emergency department treatment with this drug alone, or combined with an inhaled short-acting anticholinergic, like ipratropium bromide.

Pooled results from 16 trials included found that combination therapy would mean about 65 fewer patients per 1000 are admitted to hospital. As most underlying trials were conducted outside the NHS, the admission rates are likely to be quite different in the UK.

Short-term minor adverse effects were more common with combined therapy.

The evidence suggests combination treatment is most effective in severe attacks and this is consistent with current UK guideline recommendations.

Asthma places a large burden on the NHS and reducing hospital admissions may spare resources. Further study could usefully explore the optimal drug dose and delivery method in a UK setting.

Improving Recognition of Pediatric Severe Sepsis in the Emergency Department

Recognition of pediatric sepsis is a key clinical challenge. We evaluate the performance of a sepsis recognition process including an electronic sepsis alert and bedside assessment in a pediatric emergency department | Annals of Emergency Medicine

Methods: This was a cohort study with quality improvement intervention in a pediatric ED. Exposure was a positive electronic sepsis alert, defined as elevated pulse rate or hypotension, concern for infection, and at least one of the following: abnormal capillary refill, abnormal mental status, or high-risk condition. A positive electronic sepsis alert prompted team assessment or huddle to determine need for sepsis protocol. Clinicians could initiate team assessment or huddle according to clinical concern without positive electronic sepsis alert. Severe sepsis outcome defined as activation of the sepsis protocol in the ED or development of severe sepsis requiring ICU admission within 24 hours.

Conclusion: Electronic sepsis alert for severe sepsis demonstrated good sensitivity and high specificity. Addition of clinician identification of electronic sepsis alert–negative patients further improved sensitivity. Implementation of the electronic sepsis alert was associated with improved recognition of severe sepsis.

Full reference: Balamuth, F. et al. (2017) Improving Recognition of Pediatric Severe Sepsis in the Emergency Department: Contributions of a Vital Sign–Based Electronic Alert and Bedside Clinician Identification. Annals of Emergency Medicine. Published online: 2 June 2017

Contributing Factors of Frequent Use of the Emergency Department

Overcrowding of the emergency department is a growing problem. Frequent users contribute to the overcrowding problem in emergency departments | International Emergency Nursing


Introduction: Overcrowding in emergency departments is an issue that has a negative impact worldwide. As attendance in emergency departments has increased, the ability to provide critical services to patients suffering from actual medical emergencies in a timely manner has decreased as these departments are many times at or over capacity. One patient population whose negative influence has been researched with regard to their impact on the overcrowding issue is that of the frequent user.

Results: A review of the literature identified two predominant factors related to frequent users in the emergency department: a lack of awareness of medical necessity and issues of access.

Discussion: To address the frequent users in emergency departments, implications for practice need to be explored and implemented. Implications for practice include education of medical necessity for the frequent users, expansion of the pre-hospital role in primary care and inappropriate use prevention, and improvement of access to alternative healthcare services.

Full reference: Burns, T.R. (2017) Contributing Factors of Frequent Use of the Emergency Department: A Synthesis. International Emergency Nursing. Published online: 5 June 2017