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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Need for Intervention in Families Presenting to the Emergency Department with Multiple Children as Patients

  • Author(s): Lemus, Jesus
  • Chacko, Melissa
  • Claudius, Ilene
  • et al.

Introduction: To assess if families presenting to a pediatric emergency department (PED) with multiple children as patients require interventions at the same rate as families presenting with a single child.

Methods: This is a retrospective chart review looking at PED encounters for families presenting with single children versus multiple children as patients. Patients presenting with siblings were retrospectively selected from the electronic tracking board, and we randomly selected age/gender matched single-patient controls from a comparable time period. The primary outcome was a comparison of visit acuity between families presenting with single versus multiple children, with the hypothesis that families presenting with multiple children as patients would require less utilization of services (as a surrogate for acuity). Admission, intravenous fluid administration (IVF), planned observation, subspecialty consultation, performance of procedures, laboratories and radiographs, administration of prescription medications, and prescription medications for home were all recorded and compared via chi-squared comparison. We considered 5 interventions (admission, subspecialty consultation, performance of procedures, IVF administration, and observation > 6 hours) “critical interventions” and compared them separately.

Results: In our sample of 83 patients from 41 families registering multiple children and 248 singleton controls, we found a significant difference in the percentage of patients requiring critical interventions (4.8% versus 32.5%, P < 0.0001).

Conclusion: Families presenting with multiple children concurrently to an ED require critical interventions at a much lower rate than children presenting as single patients. Many of these families could be well-served at an urgent care or primary care provider. [West J Emerg Med. 2013;14(5):525–528.]

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