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Volume 22, Issue 3, 2021
WestJEM Volume 22 Issue 3 - May
WestJEM Full-Text Issue
Violence Assessment and Prevention
Nonfatal Firearm Injuries by Intent in the United States: 2016-2018 Hospital Discharge Records from the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project
Introduction: In addition to the nearly 40,000 firearm deaths each year, nonfatal firearm injuries represent a significant public health burden to communities in the United States. We aimed to describe the incidence and rates of nonfatal firearm injuries.
Methods: We calculated nonfatal firearm injury estimates using the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, including the Nationwide Emergency Department Samples and the National Inpatient Samples. We used the International Classification of Diseases, 10th Revision, Clinical Modification to identify firearm injury episodes. Deaths in the emergency department (ED) or as inpatients were excluded.
Results: In addition to the 118,171 persons shot and killed by firearms from 2016–2018, 228,380 people were shot (ratio 1.9:1) and treated at a hospital ED or admitted to hospital, a rate of 23.4 nonfatal firearm injury episodes per 100,000 population. The number of nonfatal injury episodes varied by year: 2018 had the lowest at 69,692, compared to 84,776 in 2017 and 73,912 in 2016. Unintentional injury episodes were the most frequent, accounting for 58.5% (n = 81,217) and 38.9% (n = 34,820) of total nonfatal firearm hospital discharges from the ED and inpatients, respectively. Assault episodes were the next most frequent, at 36.3% (n = 50,482) of ED and 49.5% (n = 44,290) of inpatient discharges. The highest rate of nonfatal firearm injury by five-year age group was for 20- to 24-year-olds. With an annual rate of 73.53 per 100,000 population, the rates for ages 20-24 were more than 10 times higher than the rates for patients younger than 15 or 60 years and older. More than half (53.4%, n = 121,884) of hospital-treated, nonfatal firearm injury episodes were patients living in ZIP codes with a median household income in the lowest quartile, compared to 7.5% (n = 17,102) for patients residing in the highest income quartile ZIP codes, a sevenfold difference.
Conclusion: For every person shot and killed by a gun in the US, two more are wounded. Unlike firearm deaths, which are predominantly suicides, most nonfatal firearm injury episodes are unintentional or with an assault intent. Having a reliable source of nonfatal injury data is essential to understanding the incidence of firearm injuries.
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Introduction: Lethal means counseling (to reduce access to firearms or other suicide methods) is a recommended critical yet challenging component of care of suicidal patients. Questions remain about communication strategies for those in acute crisis.
Method: This qualitative study was an analysis of semi-structured interviews with English-speaking, community-dwelling adults with a history of lived-experience of suicidal ideation or attempts in themselves or a family member. We used a mixed inductive and deductive approach to identify descriptive themes related to communication and decision-making.
Results: Among 27 participants, 14 (52%) had personal and 23 (85%) had family experience with suicide ideation or attempts. Emergent themes fell into two domains: (1) communication in a state of high emotionality; and (2) specific challenges in communication: initiating, maintaining engagement, considering context.
Conclusion: Engaging suicidal individuals in lethal means counseling may be more effective when messaging and approaches consider their emotional state and communication challenges.
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Introduction: Firearm injury prevention discussions with emergency department (ED) patients provide a unique opportunity to prevent death and injury in high-risk patient groups. Building mutual understanding of safe firearm practices between patients and providers will aid the development of effective interventions. Examining ED patient baseline characteristics, perspectives on healthcare-based safety discussions, and experience with and access to firearms, will allow practitioners to craft more effective messaging and interventions.
Methods: Using an institutional review board-approved cross-sectional survey modified from a validated national instrument, we recruited 625 patients from three large, urban, academically affiliated EDs in the South to assess patient baseline characteristics, perspectives regarding firearms and firearm safety discussions, and prior violence history, as well as firearm access and safety habits. We compared the degree to which patients were open to discussions regarding firearms across a variety of provider types and clinical scenarios between those with and without gun access.
Results: Of the 625 patients consented and eligible for the study, 306 had access to firearms. The patients with firearm access were predominantly male, were more likely to have military experience, live in an urban or suburban region, and have experienced prior violence when compared to those without firearm access. Patients with and without gun access view firearm safety discussions with their healthcare provider as acceptable and analogous to other behavioral health interventions (i.e., helmet/seat belt use, alcohol/cigarette use). Patients were also accepting of these firearm safety discussions in many clinical contexts and led by multiple provider types. Of the patients with gun access, storage of each type of firearm was reviewed and the primary reason for ownership was for personal protection across all firearm types.
Conclusion: Patients in the ED indicate openness to firearm safety discussions delivered by a variety of providers and in diverse clinical scenarios. Healthcare providers engaging firearm owners in appropriate risk-benefit discussions using a trauma-informed approach is a critical next step in research and intervention.
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Introduction: Firearm-related deaths and injuries are ongoing public health issues in the United States. We reviewed a series of gun violence- and firearm-related injuries treated at a multi-campus community healthcare system in West Michigan to better understand the demographic and clinical characteristics of these injuries. We also studied hospital charges, and payers responsible, in an effort to identify stakeholders and opportunities for community- and hospital-based prevention.
Methods: We performed a retrospective review of firearm injuries treated at Mercy Health Muskegon (MHM) between May 1, 2015 and June 30, 2019. Demographic data, injury type, Injury Severity Score (ISS), anatomic location and organ systems involved, length of stay (LOS), mortality, time of year, and ZIP code in which the injury occurred were reviewed, as were hospital charges and payers responsible.
Results: Of those reviewed, 307 firearm-related injuries met inclusion criteria for the study. In 69.4% of cases the injury type was attempted murder or intent to do bodily harm. Accidental and self-inflicted injuries accounted for 25% of cases. There was a statistically significant difference in the mechanism of injury between Black and White patients with a higher proportion of Black men injured due to gun violence (P < 0.001). Median ISS was 8 and the most commonly injured organ system was musculoskeletal. Median LOS was one day. Self-inflicted firearm injuries had the highest rate of mortality (50%) followed by attempted murder (7%) and accidental discharge (3.1%; P < 0.001). Median hospital charge was $8,008. In 68% of cases, Medicaid was the payer. MHM received $4.98 million dollars in reimbursement from Medicaid; however, when direct and indirect costs were taken into account, a loss of $12,648 was observed.
Conclusion: Findings from this study reveal that young, Black men are the primary victims of gun violence-related injuries in our West Michigan service area. Hospital care of firearm-related injuries at MHM was predominantly paid for by Medicaid. Multiple stakeholders stand to benefit from funding and supporting community- and hospital-based prevention programs designed to reduce gun violence and firearm-related injuries in our service area.
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Introduction: Rural areas have higher rates of firearm-related unintentional and suicide deaths. Having access to a firearm greatly increases suicide risk. Safe firearm storage can be a major factor in preventing these tragedies. In this study we evaluated firearm exposure and storage practices in rural adolescents’ homes.
Methods: An anonymous survey was administered to a convenience sample of attendees at the 2019 Iowa FFA (formerly Future Farmers of America) Leadership Conference. We performed descriptive, bivariate and multivariable logistic regression analyses.
Results: A total of 1,382 adolescents participated; 51% were males and 49% were females. Respondents were 13-18 years old, and 53% lived on a farm, 18% in the country/not on a farm, and 29% in town. Almost all (96%) self-identified as White/Caucasian. In their homes, 84% reported having rifles/shotguns, 58% reported having handguns, and 56% reported having both rifles/shotguns and handguns. Males were significantly more likely than females to report having firearms in their home (P<0.001). The likelihood of having rifles/shotguns was greater if living on a farm (odds ratio (OR) 4.19, 95% confidence interval (CI), 2.99-5.88) or in the country/not a farm (OR 2.74, 95% CI, 1.78-4.24) compared to those in town. Similarly, the presence of handguns in the home was increased if living on a farm compared to in town (OR 1.70, 95% CI 1.32-2.18). Rifles/shotguns and handguns were stored unlocked and/or loaded at least some of the time in 62% and 58% of homes, respectively. Those who lived on farms compared to in towns were more likely to have rifles/shotguns (OR 1.83, 95% CI 1.35-2.46) and handguns (OR 1.58, 95% CI 1.10-2.27) stored unlocked. For homes with unlocked rifles/shotguns, 46% stored ammunition unlocked. For homes with unlocked handguns, 38% stored ammunition unlocked. Among those aware of firearm storage in their home, 82% (802/974) reported at least one firearm stored either unlocked and/or loaded at least some of the time.
Conclusion: The vast majority of rural adolescents we surveyed live in homes with firearms, and a large proportion of those firearms are not stored safely. Widespread efforts are needed to educate rural families about the importance of proper firearm and ammunition storage.
Introduction: During a hospital-based active shooter (AS) event, clinicians may be forced to choose between saving themselves or their patients. The Hartford Consensus survey of clinicians and the public demonstrated mixed feelings on the role of doctors and nurses in these situations. Our objective was to evaluate the effect of simulation on ethical dilemmas during a hospital-based AS simulation. The objective was to determine whether a hospital-based AS event simulation and debrief would impact the ethical beliefs of emergency physicians relating to personal duty and risk.
Methods: Forty-eight emergency physicians and physicians-in-training participated in this cohort study based in an urban academic hospital. Simulation scenarios presented ethical dilemmas for participants (eg, they decided between running a code or hiding from a shooter). Surveys based upon the Hartford Consensus were completed before and after the simulation. Questions focused on preparedness and ethical duties of physicians to their patients during an AS incident. We evaluated differences using a chi-squared test.
Results: Preparedness for an AS event significantly improved after the simulation (P = 0.0001). Pre-simulation, 56% of participants felt that doctors/nurses have a special duty like police to protect patients who cannot hide/run, and 20% reported that a provider should accept a very high/high level of personal risk to protect patients who cannot hide/run. This was similar to the findings of the Hartford Consensus. Interestingly, post-simulation, percentages decreased to 25% (P = 0.008) and 5% (P = 0.041), respectively.
Conclusion: Simulation training influenced ethical beliefs relating to the duty of emergency physicians during a hospital-based AS incident. In addition to traditional learning objectives, ethics should be another important design consideration for planning future simulations in this domain.
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Objectives: Intentional self-harm (suicide) by firearms is a growing problem in the United States. Currently, there are no large studies that have identified risk factors for patients who die from self-inflicted gunshot wounds. Our objectives are to 1) identify risk factors for patients with the highest morbidity and mortality from self-inflicted gunshot wounds (SIGSWs) at trauma centers 2) present the outcomes of victims of SIGSW by handguns (HG) versus all other specified guns (AOG) and 3) compare the presentations and outcomes of victims with head or face (HF) injuries to other regions of the body.
Methods: We performed a retrospective analysis from the National Trauma Database (NTDB) data between 2012 and 2013 of all SIGSW patients who presented to trauma centers. Categorical data included patient characteristics upon presentation and outcomes which were compared between patients with HG injury versus AOG injury using the Chi-Squared test, where AOG includes shotguns, hunting rifles, and military firearms. Additionally, analysis of head and face (HF) injuries versus other bodily injuries (OBI) were compared between the HG group versus AOG group using Chi-squared test.
Results: There were 7828 SIGSWs, of those, 78% (6115) were white and 84.3% (6600) were male. There were 5139 HG injuries, 1130 AOG injuries, and 1405 unidentified gun injuries. The HG group was likely to be older (>55 years old), hypotensive (systolic blood pressure < 90), have a lower Glasgow Coma Score (GCS < 9), use illegal, or use prescription drugs. In comparing HF injuries (4799) versus other bodily injuries (OBI) (3028), HF group was more likely to use handguns, expire in ED, require ICU, and have a higher percent of overall mortality. Of the total OBI, the thorax, upper extremities, and abdomen were the most commonly injured.
Conclusion: In our retrospective study of SIGSWs, we were able to demonstrate that SIGSW by handguns are more lethal, and confer a higher proportion of severe injuries versus all other types of firearms. SIGSWs in older white males with handguns are the most at-risk for severe complications. Future efforts should improve screening methods for handguns in suicidal patients and at developing prevention programs.
Documentation of Screening for Firearm Access by Healthcare Providers in the Veterans Healthcare System: A Retrospective Study
Introduction: Presence of a firearm is associated with increased risk of violence and suicide. United States military veterans are at disproportionate risk of suicide. Routine healthcare provider screening of firearm access may prompt counseling on safe storage and handling of firearms. The objective of this study was to determine the frequency with which Veterans Health Administration (VHA) healthcare providers document firearm access in electronic health record (EHR) clinical notes, and whether this varied by patient characteristics.
Methods: The study sample is a post-9-11 cohort of veterans in their first year of VHA care, with at least one outpatient care visit between 2012-2017 (N = 762,953). Demographic data, veteran military service characteristics, and clinical comorbidities were obtained from VHA EHR. We extracted clinical notes for outpatient visits to primary, urgent, or emergency clinics (total 105,316,004). Natural language processing and machine learning (ML) approaches were used to identify documentation of firearm access. A taxonomy of firearm terms was identified and manually annotated with text anchored by these terms, and then trained the ML algorithm. The random-forest algorithm achieved 81.9% accuracy in identifying documentation of firearm access.
Results:The proportion of patients with EHR-documented access to one or more firearms during their first year of care in the VHA was relatively low and varied by patient characteristics. Men had significantly higher documentation of firearms than women (9.8% vs 7.1%; P < .001) and veterans >50 years old had the lowest (6.5%). Among veterans with any firearm term present, only 24.4% were classified as positive for access to a firearm (24.7% of men and 20.9% of women).Conclusion: Natural language processing can identify documentation of access to firearms in clinical notes with acceptable accuracy, but there is a need for investigation into facilitators and barriers for providers and veterans to improve a systemwide process of firearm access screening. Screening, regardless of race/ethnicity, gender, and age, provides additional opportunities to protect veterans from self-harm and violence.
Assessing Violence Risk in Adolescents in the Pediatric Emergency Department: Systematic Review and Clinical Guidance
Introduction: Violence risk assessment is one of the most frequent reasons for child and adolescent psychiatry consultation with adolescents in the pediatric emergency department (ED). Here we provide a systematic review of risk factors for violence in adolescents using the risk factor categories from the MacArthur Violence Risk Assessment study. Further, we provide clinical guidance for assessing adolescent violence risk in the pediatric ED.
Methods: For this systematic review, we used the preferred reporting items for systematic reviews and meta-analyses (PRISMA) 2009 checklist. We searched PubMed and PsycINFO databases (1966–July 1, 2020) for studies that reported risk factors for violence in adolescents.
Results: Risk factors for adolescent violence can be organized by MacArthur risk factor categories. Personal characteristics include male gender, younger age, no religious affiliation, lower IQ, and Black, Hispanic, or multiracial race. Historical characteristics include a younger age at first offense, higher number of previous criminal offenses, criminal history in one parent, physical abuse, experiencing poor child-rearing, and low parental education level. Among contextual characteristics, high peer delinquency or violent peer- group membership, low grade point average and poor academic performance, low connectedness to school, truancy, and school failure, along with victimization, are risk factors. Also, firearm access is a risk factor for violence in children and adolescents. Clinical characteristics include substance use, depressive mood, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, antisocial traits, callous/unemotional traits, grandiosity, and justification of violence.
Conclusion: Using MacArthur risk factor categories as organizing principles, this systematic review recommends the Structured Assessment of Violence Risk in Youth (SAVRY) risk- assessment tool for assessing adolescent violence risk in the pediatric ED.
Some experts have promoted the use of rapid testing for COVID-19. However, with the current technologies available, continuing to replace laboratory-based, real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction tests with rapid (point-of-care) tests may lead to an increased number of false negative tests. Moreover, the more rapid dissemination of false negative results that can occur with the use of rapid tests for COVID-19 may lead to increased spread of the novel coronavirus if patients do not understand the concept of false negative tests. One means of combatting this would be to tell patients who have a “negative” rapid COVID-19 test that their test result was “indeterminate.”
Introduction: The coronavirus 2019 pandemic caused a shortage of disposable N95 respirators, prompting healthcare entities to extend the use of these masks beyond their intended single-use manufacturer recommendation with a paucity of supporting research.
Methods: We performed a prospective cohort study of ED healthcare workers (HCW) (“subjects”) required to use respirators at an academic, Level I trauma center. Subjects had been previously fit tested and assigned an appropriately sized N95 mask per hospital protocol. Per study protocol, subjects were fit tested periodically throughout their shifts and on multiple shifts over the eight-week study period. Data points collected included the age of the mask, subjective assessment of mask seal quality, and fit test results. We analyzed the data using Fisher’s exact test, and calculated odds ratios (OR) to determine the failure rate of disposable N95 masks following reuse.
Results: A total of 130 HCWs underwent fit testing and 127 were included for analysis. Mask failure rate climbed after day 2 of use, with 33.3% of masks failing at day 3, 42.9% at day 4, and 50% at ≥ day 5. Categorizing the masks into those being used for two or fewer days vs those in use for three or more, failure was more common on day 3 of use or older compared to those in the first two days of use (41.8% vs 8.3%, P < 0.0001) with an OR of failure with an older mask of 7.9 (confidence interval [CI], 2.8-22.3). The healthcare workers’ assessment of poor seal was 33.3% sensitive (CI, 18.6-51.9) and 95.7% specific (CI, 88.8-98.6) for fit test failure.
Conclusion: Disposable N95 masks have significant failure rates following reuse in clinical practice. Healthcare personnel also performed poorly in assessing the integrity of the seal of their disposable respirators.
Emergency Department Access During COVID-19: Disparities in Utilization by Race/Ethnicity, Insurance, and Income
Introduction: In March 2020, shelter-in-place orders were enacted to attenuate the spread of coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19). Emergency departments (EDs) experienced unexpected and dramatic decreases in patient volume, raising concerns about exacerbating health disparities.
Methods: We queried our electronic health record to describe the overall change in visits to a two-ED healthcare system in Northern California from March–June 2020 compared to 2019. We compared weekly absolute numbers and proportional change in visits focusing on race/ethnicity, insurance, household income, and acuity. We calculated the z-score to identify whether there was a statistically significant difference in proportions between 2020 and 2019.
Results: Overall ED volume declined 28% during the study period. The nadir of volume was 52% of 2019 levels and occurred five weeks after a shelter-in-place order was enacted. Patient demographics also shifted. By week 4 (April 5), the proportion of Hispanic patients decreased by 3.3 percentage points (pp) (P = 0.0053) compared to a 6.2 pp increase in White patients (P = 0.000005). The proportion of patients with commercial insurance increased by 11.6 pp, while Medicaid visits decreased by 9.5 pp (P < 0.00001) at the initiation of shelter-in-place orders. For patients from neighborhoods <300% federal poverty levels (FPL), visits were –3.8 pp (P = 0.000046) of baseline compared to +2.9 pp (P = 0.0044) for patients from ZIP codes at >400% FPL the week of the shelter-in-place order. Overall, 2020 evidenced a consistently elevated proportion of high-acuity Emergency Severity Index (ESI) level 1 patients compared to 2019. Increased acuity was also demonstrated by an increase in the admission rate, with a 10.8 pp increase from 2019. Although there was an increased proportion of high-acuity patients, the overall census was decreased.
Conclusion: Our results demonstrate changing ED utilization patterns circa the shelter-in-place orders. Those from historically vulnerable populations such as Hispanics, those from lower socioeconomic areas, and Medicaid users presented at disproportionately lower rates and numbers than other groups. As the pandemic continues, hospitals should use operations data to monitor utilization patterns by demographic, in addition to clinical indicators. Messaging about availability of emergency care and other services should include vulnerable populations to avoid exacerbating healthcare disparities.
Introduction: During the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, a reduction in emergency department (ED) visits was seen nationally according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, no data currently exists for the impact of ED transfers to a higher level of care during this same time period. The primary objective of the study was to determine whether the COVID-19 pandemic affected the rate of non-COVID-19 transfers from a rural community ED.
Methods: We completed a retrospective chart review of all ED patients who presented to Kingman Regional Medical Center in Kingman, Arizona, from March 1–June 31, 2019 and March 1–June 31, 2020. To ensure changes were not due to seasonal trends, we examined transfer rates from the same four-month period in 2019 and 2020. Patients were included in the study if they were transferred to an outside facility for a higher level of care not related to COVID-19.
Results: Between the time periods studied there was a 25.33% (P = 0.001) reduction in total ED volume and a 21.44% (P = 0.009) reduction in ED transfers to a higher level of care. No statistical difference was noted in ED transfer volume following adjustment for decreased ED volumes. Transfers for gastroenterology (45%; P = 0.021), neurosurgery (29.2%; P = 0.029), neurology (76.3%; P < 0.001), trauma (37.5%; P = 0.039), urology (41.8%; P = 0.012), and surgery (56.3%; P = 0.028) all experienced a decrease in transfer rates during the time period studied. When gender was considered, males exhibited an increased rate of transfers to psychiatric facilities (P = 0.018).
Conclusion: Significant reductions in both ED volume and transfers have coincided with the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic. Further research is needed to determine how the current pandemic has affected patient care.
Provider Antibody Serology Study of Virus in the Emergency Room (PASSOVER) Study: Special Population COVID-19 Seroprevalence
Introduction: Limited data on the seroprevalence of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) among healthcare workers (HCW) are publicly available. In this study we sought to determine the seroprevalence of SARS-CoV-2 in a population of HCWs in a pediatric emergency department (ED).
Methods: We conducted this observational cohort study from April 14–May 13, 2020 in a pediatric ED in Orange County, CA. Asymptomatic HCW ≥18 years of age were included in the study. Blood samples were obtained by fingerstick at the start of each shift. The inter-sampling interval was ≤96 hours. The primary outcome was positive seroprevalence of SARS-CoV-2 as determined with an antibody fast detection kit (Colloidal Gold, Superbio, Timisoara, Romania) for the SARS-CoV-2 immunoglobulin M/immunoglobulin G (IgM/IgG) antibody.
Results: A total of 143 HCWs participated in the study. Overall SARS-CoV-2 seroprevalence was 10.5% (n = 15). Positive seroprevalence was classified as IgG only (4.9%), IgM+IgG (3.5%), or IgM only (2.1%). SARS-CoV-2 was detected by reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction RT-PCR in 0.7% of the overall study population (n = 1). Samples obtained on Day 1 indicated seropositivity in 4.2% of the study population (n = 6). Subsequent seroconversion occurred in 6.3% of participants (n = 9). The rate of seroconversion was linear with a rate of approximately one new case every two days, starting at Day 9 of the study.
Conclusion: We observed a linear rate of seroconversion to SARS-CoV-2–positive status among asymptomatic HCWs who underwent daily symptom surveys and temperature screens in an environment with universal source control. Rapid antibody testing may be useful for screening for SARS-CoV-2 seropositivity in high-risk populations, such as HCWs in the ED.
Introduction: As the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded, emergency departments (EDs) across the world braced for surges in volume and demand. However, many EDs experienced decreased demand even for higher acuity illnesses. In this study we sought to examine the change in utilization at a large Canadian community ED, including changes in patient demographics and presentations, as well as structural and administrative changes made in response to the pandemic.
Methods: This retrospective observational study took place in Ontario, Canada, from March 17– June 30, 2020, during province-wide lockdowns in response to COVID-19. We used a control period of March 17–June 30 in 2018–2019. Differences between observed and expected values were calculated for total visits, Canadian Triage and Acuity Scale (CTAS) groups, and age groups using Fisher’s exact test. Length of stay (LOS), physician initial assessment time (PIA), and top primary and admission diagnoses were also examined.
Results: Patient visits fell to 66.3% of expected volume in the exposure period (20,901 vs 31,525, P<0.0001). CTAS-1 (highest acuity) patient volumes dropped to 86.8% of expected (P = 0.1964) while CTAS-5 (lowest acuity) patient volumes dropped to 32.4% of expected (P <0.0001). Youth (0-17), adult (18-64), and senior (65+) visits all decreased to 37.4%, 71.7%, and 72.9% of expected volumes, respectively (P <0.0001). Median PIA and median ED LOS both decreased (1.1 to 0.6 hours and 3.3 to 3.0 hours, respectively). The most common primary diagnosis in both periods was “other chest pain.” Viral syndromes were more prevalent in the exposure period. The top admission diagnoses were congestive heart failure in the control period (4.8%) and COVID-19 in the study period (3.5%).
Conclusion: ED utilization changed drastically during COVID-19. Our ED responded with wide stakeholder engagement, spatial reorganization, and human resources changes informed by real-time data. Our experiences can help prepare for potential subsequent “waves” of COVID-19 and future pandemics.
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Introduction: As of October 30, 2020, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has infected over 44 million people worldwide and killed over 1.1 million people. In the emergency department (ED), patients who need supplemental oxygen or respiratory support are admitted to the hospital, but the course of normoxic patients with SARS-CoV-2 infection is unknown. In our health system, the policy during the coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic was to admit all patients with abnormal chest imaging (CXR) regardless of their oxygen level. We also admitted febrile patients with respiratory complaints who resided in congregate living. We describe the rate of decompensation among patients admitted with suspected SARS-CoV-2 infection but who were not hypoxemic in the ED.
Methods: This is a retrospective observational study of patients admitted to our health system between March 1–May 5, 2020 with suspected SARS-CoV-2 infection. We queried our registry to find patients who were admitted to the hospital but had no recorded oxygen saturation of <92% in the ED and received no supplemental oxygen prior to admission. Our primary outcome was decompensation at 72 hours, defined by the need for respiratory support (oxygen, high-flow nasal cannula, non-invasive ventilation, or intubation).
Results: A total of 840 patients met our inclusion criteria. Of those patients, 376 (45%) tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. Sixty patients (7.1%) with suspected COVID-19 required respiratory support at 72 hours including 27 (3%) of confirmed SARS-CoV-2 positive patients. Among the 376 patients who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, 54 patients (14%) had normal CXR in the ED. One-third of patients with normal CXRs decompensated at 72 hours. Seven SARS-CoV-2 positive patients in our cohort died during their hospitalization, of whom five had normal CXRs on admission.
Conclusion: Sixty (7.1%) of suspected COVID-19 patients hospitalized at 72 hours required respiratory support despite being normoxic in the ED. Further research should look to identify the normoxic SARS-CoV-2 patients at risk for decompensation.
Utility Of An Emergency Department Clinical Protocol For Early Identification of Coronavirus Infection
Introduction: We assessed the utility of an emergency department (ED) protocol using clinical parameters to rapidly distinguish likelihood of novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) infection; the applicability aimed to stratify infectious-risk pre-polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test results and accurately guide early patient cohorting decisions.
Methods: We performed this prospective study over a two-month period during the initial surge of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic in a busy urban ED of patients presenting with respiratory symptoms who were admitted for in-patient care. Per protocol, each patient received assessment consisting of five clinical parameters: presence of fever; hypoxia; cough; shortness of breath/dyspnea; and performance of a chest radiograph to assess for bilateral pulmonary infiltrates. All patients received nasopharyngeal COVID-19 PCR testing.
Results: Of 283 patients studied, 221 (78%) were PCR+ and 62 (22%) PCR-. Chest radiograph revealed bilateral pulmonary infiltrates in 85%, which was significantly more common in PCR+ (94%) vs PCR- (52%) patients (P < 0.0001). The rate of manifesting all five positive clinical parameters was significantly greater in PCR+ (63%) vs PCR- (6.5%) patients (P < 0.0001). For PCR+ outcome, the presence of all five positive clinical parameters had a specificity of 94%, positive predictive value of 98%, and positive likelihood ratio of 10.
Conclusions: Using an ED protocol to rapidly assess five clinical parameters accurately distinguishes likelihood of COVID-19 infection prior to PCR test results, and can be used to augment early patient cohorting decisions.
Clinical Prediction Tool to Assess the Likelihood of a Positive SARS-Cov-2 (COVID-19) Polymerase Chain Reaction Test in Patients with Flu-like Symptoms
Introduction: The clinical presentation of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) overlaps with many other common cold and influenza viruses. Identifying patients with a higher probability of infection becomes crucial in settings with limited access to testing. We developed a prediction instrument to assess the likelihood of a positive polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, based solely on clinical variables that can be determined within the time frame of an emergency department (ED) patient encounter.
Methods: We derived and prospectively validated a model to predict SARS-CoV-2 PCR positivity in patients visiting the ED with symptoms consistent with the disease.
Results: Our model was based on 617 ED visits. In the derivation cohort, the median age was 36 years, 43% were men, and 9% had a positive result. The median time to testing from the onset of initial symptoms was four days (interquartile range [IQR]: 2-5 days, range 0-23 days), and 91% of all patients were discharged home. The final model based on a multivariable logistic regression included a history of close contact (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] 2.47, 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.29-4.7); fever (AOR 3.63, 95% CI, 1.931-6.85); anosmia or dysgeusia (AOR 9.7, 95% CI, 2.72-34.5); headache (AOR 1.95, 95% CI, 1.06-3.58), myalgia (AOR 2.6, 95% CI, 1.39-4.89); and dry cough (AOR 1.93, 95% CI, 1.02-3.64). The area under the curve (AUC) from the derivation cohort was 0.79 (95% CI, 0.73-0.85) and AUC 0.7 (95% CI, 0.61-0.75) in the validation cohort (N = 379).
Conclusion: We developed and validated a clinical tool to predict SARS-CoV-2 PCR positivity in patients presenting to the ED to assist with patient disposition in environments where COVID-19 tests or timely results are not readily available.
SARS-CoV-2 Infection and Associated Rates of Diabetic Ketoacidosis in a New York City Emergency Department
Introduction: In early March 2020, coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) spread rapidly in New York City. Shortly thereafter, in response to the shelter-in-place orders and concern for infection, emergency department (ED) volumes decreased. While a connection between severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection and hyperglycemia/insulin deficiency is well described, its direct relation to diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) is not. In this study we describe trends in ED volume and admitted patient diagnoses of DKA among five of our health system’s EDs, as they relate to peak SARS-CoV-2 activity in New York City.
Methods: For the five EDs in our hospital system, deidentified visit data extracted for routine quality review was made available for analysis. We looked at total visits and select visit diagnoses related to DKA, across the months of March, April and May 2019, and compared those counts to the same period in 2020.
Results: A total of 93,218 visits were recorded across our five EDs from March 1–May 31, 2019. During that period there were 106 diagnoses of DKA made in the EDs (0.114% of visits). Across the same period in 2020 there were 59,009 visits, and 214 diagnoses of DKA (0.363% of visits)
Conclusion: Despite a decrease in ED volume of 26.9% across our system during this time period, net cases of DKA diagnoses rose drastically by 70.1% compared to the prior year.
Introduction: Emergency department (ED) attendances fell across the UK after the ‘lockdown’ introduced on 23rd March 2020 to limit the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). We hypothesised that reductions would vary by patient age and disease type. We examined pre- and in-lockdown ED attendances for two COVID-19 unrelated diagnoses: one likely to be affected by lockdown measures (gastroenteritis), and one likely to be unaffected (appendicitis).
Methods: We conducted a retrospective cross-sectional study across two EDs in one London hospital Trust. We compared all adult and paediatric ED attendances, before (January 2020) and during lockdown (March/April 2020). Key patient demographics, method of arrival, and discharge location were compared. We used Systemised Nomenclature of Medicine codes to define attendances for gastroenteritis and appendicitis.
Results: ED attendances fell from 1129 per day before lockdown to 584 in lockdown, 51.7% of pre-lockdown rates. In-lockdown attendances were lowest for under-18s (16.0% of pre-lockdown). The proportion of patients admitted to hospital increased from 17.3% to 24.0%, and the proportion admitted to intensive care increased fourfold. Attendances for gastroenteritis fell from 511 to 103, 20.2% of pre-lockdown rates. Attendances for appendicitis also decreased, from 144 to 41, 28.5% of pre-lockdown rates.
Conclusion: ED attendances fell substantially following lockdown implementation. The biggest reduction was for under-18s. We observed reductions in attendances for gastroenteritis and appendicitis. This may reflect lower rates of infectious disease transmission, although the fall in appendicitis-related attendances suggests that behavioural factors were also important. Larger studies are urgently needed to understand changing patterns of ED use and access to emergency care during the coronavirus 2019 pandemic.
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Imperial County is in southern California, one of the state’s two counties at the international United States-Mexico border. The county is one of the most resource-limited in the state, with only two hospitals serving its 180,000 citizens, and no tertiary care centers. A significant portion of the population cared for at the local hospitals commutes from Mexicali, a large city of 1.2 million persons, just south of Imperial County’s ports of entry. Since May 2020, following an outbreak in Mexicali, Imperial County has seen a significant increase in the number of COVID-19 patients, quickly outpacing its local resources. In response to this surge an alternate care site (ACS) was created as part of a collaboration between the California State Emergency Medical Service Authority (EMSA) and the county. In the first month of operations (May 26–June 26, 2020) the ACS received 106 patients with an average length of stay of 3.6 days. The average patient age was 55.5 years old with a range of 19-95 years. Disposition of patients included 25.5% sent to the emergency department for acute care needs, 1.8% who left against medical advice, and 72.7% who were discharged home or to a skilled nursing facility. There were no deaths on site. This study shares early experiences, challenges, and innovations created with the implementation of this ACS. Improving communication with local partners was the single most significant step in overcoming initial barriers.
Acute Kidney Injury After CT in Emergency Patients with Chronic Kidney Disease: A Propensity Score-matched Analysis
Introduction: Acute kidney injury (AKI) after intravenous contrast administration for computed tomography (CT) occurs infrequently, but certain patients may be susceptible. This study evaluated AKI incidence among emergency department (ED) patients with pre-existing chronic kidney disease (CKD) undergoing CT exams.
Methods: This retrospective cohort study in an integrated healthcare system included ED patients previously diagnosed with CKD stages 3-5 (estimated glomerular filtration rate <60 milliliters per minute per 1.73 meters squared over at least three months), undergoing CT exams with or without intravenous contrast, from January 1, 2013–December 31, 2017. We excluded patients with CT prior to (30 days) or following (14 days) index CT and missing serum creatinine (sCr) measurements. We applied propensity score matching, and then multivariable regression adjustment for post-CT ED disposition and ED diagnosis, to calculate adjusted risk of AKI. Secondary patient-centered outcomes included 30-day mortality, end-stage renal disease (ESRD) diagnosis, and dialysis initiation.
Results: Among 103,573 eligible ED patients undergoing CT, propensity score matching yielded 5,589 pairs. Adjusted risk ratio (ARR) for AKI was higher overall for contrast-enhanced CT (1.60; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.43-1.79). However, secondary outcomes were infrequent: 19/5,589 non-contrast vs 40/5,589 contrast patients with new dialysis initiation at 30 days (adjusted risk 0.3% vs 0.7%; adjusted risk reduction 0.4%; 95% CI, 0.1%-0.7%).
Conclusion: In ED patients with chronic kidney disease undergoing CT, intravenous contrast was associated with higher overall adjusted risk of AKI, but patient-centered secondary outcomes were rare. The clinical significance of transient kidney injury after CT is unclear, although patients with advanced chronic kidney disease appear to have elevated risk.
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Introduction: Intravenous haloperidol has been shown to decrease milligram morphine equivalents (MME) of analgesia and reduce hospital admissions for diabetic gastroparesis. The objective of this study was to evaluate whether haloperidol decreases MME for the treatment of non-specific abdominal pain diagnoses in the emergency department (ED), including gastroparesis, cyclic vomiting, cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome, and unspecified abdominal pain. The primary outcome compared the difference in MME between encounters. Secondary outcomes included admission rate, pain scores, length of stay, rescue therapy administration, and adverse effects.
Methods: This retrospective chart review included patients ≥ 18 years old who presented to the ED. Patients must have had ≥ 2 ED encounters for abdominal pain, one in which they received conventional therapy with opioids (C-encounter), and the other in which they received haloperidol (H-encounter). Agitated patients were excluded. Seventy-five patients were needed to detect a 3 MME difference with 80% power and two-sided alpha of 0.05.
Results: We analyzed 107 patients with self-matched encounters. The median dose of haloperidol administered was 5.0 milligrams (mg) (interquartile range [IQR] 2.0 - 5.0). C-encounters had significantly more MME administered than H-encounters (median 5.7 mg [IQR 4.0 - 8.0] vs 0.0 mg [IQR 0.0 - 2.5], P < 0.001). These results remained significant despite route of haloperidol administration. C-encounters had higher rates of rescue therapy administration than H-encounters, (56% vs 33.6%, P < 0.001). There were higher rates of ketorolac administration in the H-encounter (P = 0.02).
Conclusion: Encounters in which patients received haloperidol and ketorolac for abdominal pain had a statistically significant reduction in MME administered and lower rates of rescue therapy administration than encounters in which patients were treated with opioids.
Introduction: Some patients with end-stage disease who may neither want nor benefit from aggressive resuscitation receive such treatment if they cannot communicate in an emergency. Timely access to patients’ current resuscitation wishes, or “code status,” should be a key metric of electronic health records (EHR). We sought to determine what percentage of a cohort of patients with end-stage disease who present to the emergency department (ED) have accessible, code status documents, and for those who do, how quickly can this documentation be retrieved.
Methods: In this cross-sectional study of ED patients with end-stage disease (eg, palliative care, metastatic malignancy, home oxygen, dialysis) conducted during purposefully sampled random accrual times we performed a standardized, timed review of available health records, including accompanying transfer documents. We also interviewed consenting patients and substitute decision makers to compare available code status documents to their current wishes.
Results: Code status documentation was unavailable within 15 minutes of ED arrival in most cases (54/85, or 63%). Retrieval time was under five minutes in the rest, especially when “one click deep” in the EHR. When interviewed, 20/32 (63%) expressed “do not resuscitate” wishes, 10 of whom had no supporting documentation. Patients from assisted-living (odds ratio [OR] 6.7; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.7-26) and long-term care facilities (OR 13; 95% CI, 2.5-65) were more likely to have a documented code status available compared to those living in the community.
Conclusion: The majority of patients with end-stage disease, including half of those who would not wish resuscitation from cardiorespiratory arrest, did not have code status documents readily available upon arrival to our tertiary care ED. Patients living in the community with advanced disease may be at higher risk for unwanted resuscitative efforts should they present to hospital in extremis. While easily retrievable code status documentation within the EHR shows promise, its accuracy and validity remain important considerations.
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Introduction: The purpose of this study was to characterize the at-risk diabetes and prediabetes patient population visiting emergency department (ED) and urgent care (UC) centers in upstate South Carolina.
Methods: We conducted this retrospective study at the largest non-profit healthcare system in South Carolina, using electronic health record (EHR) data of patients who had an ED or UC visit between February 2, 2016–July 31, 2018. Key variables including International Classification of Diseases, 10th Revision codes, laboratory test results, family history, medication, and demographic characteristics were used to classify the patients as healthy, having prediabetes, having diabetes, being at-risk for prediabetes, or being at-risk for diabetes. Patients who were known to have diabetes were classified further as having controlled diabetes, management challenged, or uncontrolled diabetes. Population analysis was stratified by the patient’s annual number of ED/UC visits.
Results: The risk stratification revealed 4.58% unique patients with unrecognized diabetes and 10.34% of the known patients with diabetes considered to be suboptimally controlled. Patients identified as diabetes management challenged had more ED/UC visits. Of note, 33.95% of the patients had unrecognized prediabetes/diabetes risk factors identified during their ED/UC with 87.95% having some form of healthcare insurance.
Conclusion: This study supports the idea that a single ED/UC unscheduled visit can identify individuals with unrecognized diabetes and an at-risk prediabetes population using EHR data. A patient’s ED/UC visit, regardless of their primary reason for seeking care, may be an opportunity to provide early identification and diabetes disease management enrollment to augment the medical care of our community.
Introduction: When discharging a patient from the emergency department (ED), it is crucial to make sure that they understand their disposition and aftercare instructions. However, numerous factors make it difficult to ensure that patients understand their next steps. Our objective was to determine whether patient understanding of ED discharge and aftercare instructions could be improved through instructional videos in addition to standard written discharge instructions.Methods: This was a prospective pre- and post-intervention study conducted at a single-center, academic tertiary care ED. Patients presenting with the five selective chief complaints (closed head injury, vaginal bleeding, laceration care, splint care, and upper respiratory infection) were given questionnaires after their discharge instructions to test comprehension. Once video discharge instructions were implemented, patients received standard discharge instructions in addition to video discharge instructions and were given the same questionnaire. A total of 120 patients were enrolled in each group.Results: There were significantly better survey scores after video discharge instructions (VDI) vs standard discharge instructions (SDI) for the closed head injury (27% SDI vs 46% VDI, P = 0.003); upper respiratory infection (28% SDI vs 64% VDI; P < 0.0001); and vaginal bleeding in early pregnancy groups (20% SDI vs 60% VDI, P < 0.0001). There were no significant differences in survey scores between the splint care (53% SDI vs 66% VDI; P = 0.08) and suture care groups (29% SDI vs 31% VDI; P = 0.40).Conclusion: Video discharge instructions supplementing standard written instructions can help improve patient comprehension and information retention. This better understanding of aftercare instructions is essential to patient follow-up and has been shown to improve patient outcomes.
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Introduction: Smoking cessation has significant health benefits, and the emergency department (ED) can be an important venue for smoking cessation counseling. Nicotine replacement therapy with transdermal patches has been shown to be associated with smoking cessation in a variety of studies. This study evaluated fulfillment rates for prescriptions for nicotine replacement transdermal patches (NRT-P) from the ED.
Methods: We conducted a retrospective review of all patients receiving a prescription for a NRT-P product from January 2018–October 2019. Charts were reviewed to gather data including age, gender, presence of chronic heart or lung problems, and health insurance. We assessed the fulfillment rate of prescriptions using the Surescripts system, which is a functionality within our electronic health record system that queries participating pharmacies. Statistical analysis was conducted to determine associations between fill rates and the other variables collected from charts.
Results: We had follow-up on 500 patients prescribed nicotine patches. Of those patients, 44% filled their prescriptions. Those who filled their prescriptions were more likely to be female and have a history of chronic lung disease. Self-pay patients were least likely to fill their prescriptions. Overall, we had evidence of smoking cessation in 13% of patients.
Conclusion: This study found that a substantial proportion of patients fail to fill their NRT-P prescriptions. Further work on means of enhancing fulfillment rates is warranted.
Importance of Mentoring on Workplace Engagement of Emergency Medicine Faculty: A Multi-institutional Study
Introduction: Mentoring in emergency medicine (EM) has not been well studied despite a larger body of literature that has described the value of mentoring in academic medicine on career satisfaction and scholarly output. Over half of all EM faculty nationally are of junior faculty ranks. The aim of this study was to identify the frequency and types of mentoring in EM, how types of mentoring in EM differ by gender, and how mentoring correlates with workplace satisfaction for EM faculty.
Methods: Using descriptive statistics and chi-squared analysis, we analyzed data from a cohort of medical schools participating in the Association of American Medical Colleges StandPoint Faculty Engagement Survey.
Results: A total of 514 EM faculty from 26 medical schools replied to the survey. Nearly 80% of EM faculty reported receiving some sort of mentoring; 43.4% reported receiving formal mentoring; 35.4% reported receiving only informal mentoring; and 21.2% received no mentoring at all. Women EM faculty received formal mentoring at lower rates than men (36.2% vs 47.5%) even though they were more likely to report that formal mentoring is important to them. Workplace satisfaction was highest for faculty receiving formal mentoring; informally or formally mentored faculty reported higher workplace satisfaction than faculty who are not mentored at all. Unmentored faculty are less likely to stay at their medical school than those formally mentored (69.8 % vs 80.4%).
Conclusion: Institutions and department chairs should focus on mentoring EM faculty, particularly women, to increase engagement and reduce attrition.
Introduction: Anti-immigrant rhetoric and increased enforcement of immigration laws have induced worry and safety concerns among undocumented Latino immigrants (UDLI) and legal Latino residents/citizens (LLRC), with some delaying the time to care.1 In this study, we conducted a qualitative analysis of statements made by emergency department (ED) patients – a majority of whom were UDLI and LLRC – participating in a study to better understand their experiences and fears with regard to anti-immigrant rhetoric, immigration enforcement, and ED utilization.
Methods: We conducted a multi-site study, surveying patients in three California safety-net EDs serving large immigrant populations from June 2017–December 2018. Of 1684 patients approached, 1337 (79.4%) agreed to participate; when given the option to provide open-ended comments, 260 participants provided perspectives about their experiences during the years immediately following the 2016 United States presidential election. We analyzed these qualitative data using constructivist grounded theory.
Results: We analyzed comments from 260 individuals. Among ED patients who provided qualitative data, 59% were women and their median age was 45 years (Interquartile range 33-57 years). Undocumented Latino immigrants comprised 49%, 31% were LLRC, and 20% were non-Latino legal residents. As their primary language, 68% spoke Spanish. We identified six themes: fear as a barrier to care (especially for UDLI); the negative impact of fear on health and wellness (physical and mental health, delays in care); factors influencing fear (eg, media coverage); and future solutions, including the need for increased communication about rights.
Conclusion: Anti-immigrant rhetoric during the 2016 US presidential campaign contributed to fear and safety concerns among UDLI and LLRC accessing healthcare. This is one of the few studies that captured firsthand experiences of UDLI in the ED. Our findings revealed fear-based barriers to accessing emergency care, protective and contributing factors to fear, and the negative impact of fear. There is a need for increased culturally informed patient communication about rights and resources, strategic media campaigns, and improved access to healthcare for undocumented individuals.
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Impact of Social Determinants of Health, Health Literacy, Self-perceived Risk, and Trust in the Emergency Physician on Compliance with Follow-up
Introduction: Patients presenting to the emergency department (ED) with “low-risk” acute coronary syndrome (ACS) symptoms can be discharged with outpatient follow-up. However, follow-up compliance is low for unknown nonclinical reasons. We hypothesized that a patient’s social factors, health literacy, self-perceived risk, and trust in the emergency physician may impact follow-up compliance.
Methods: This was a prospective study of a convenience sample of discharged ED patients presenting with chest pain and given a follow-up appointment prior to departing the ED. Patients were asked about social and demographic factors and to estimate their own risk for heart disease; they also completed the Short Assessment of Health Literacy-English (SAHL-E) and the Trust in Physician Scale (TiPS).
Results: We enrolled146 patients with a follow-up rate of 36.3%. Patients who had a low self-perceived heart disease risk (10% or less) were significantly less likely to attend follow-up than those with a higher perceived risk (23% vs 44%, P = 0.01). Other factors did not significantly predict follow-up rates.
Conclusion: In an urban county ED, in patients who were deemed low risk for ACS and discharged, only self-perception of risk was associated with compliance with a follow-up appointment.
Introduction: The purpose of this study was to validate and assess the performance of the Emergency Heart Failure Mortality Risk Grade (EHMRG) to predict seven-day mortality in US patients presenting to the emergency department (ED) with acute congestive heart failure (CHF) exacerbation.
Methods: We performed a retrospective chart review on patients presenting to the ED with acute CHF exacerbation between January 2014–January 2016 across eight EDs in New York. We identified patients using codes from the International Classification of Diseases, 9th and 10 Revisions, or who were diagnosed with CHF in the ED. Inclusion criteria were patients ≥ 18 years of age who presented to the ED for acute CHF. Exclusion criteria included the following: end-stage renal disease related heart failure; < 18 years of age; pregnancy; palliative care; renal failure; and “do not resuscitate” directive. The primary outcome was seven-day mortality. We used mixed-effects logistic regression models to estimate C-statistics and continuous net reclassification index for events and nonevents.
Results: We identified 3,320 ED visits associated with suspected CHF among 2,495 unique patients. Of the 3,320 ED visits, 94.7% patients were admitted to the hospital and 3.4% were discharged. The median age was 78.6 (interquartile range 68.01 - 86.76). There was an overall seven-day mortality of 2%, an inpatient mortality rate of 2.4%, and no mortality among the discharge group. Adding EHMRG to the risk prediction model improved the C-statistic (from 0.748 to 0.772) and led to a higher degree of reclassification for both events and nonevents.
Conclusion: The EHMRG can be used as a valuable and effective screening tool in the US while considering disposition decision for patients with acute CHF exacerbation. Emergency medical services transport and metolazone use is much higher in the US population as compared to the Canadian population. We observed minimal to no short-term mortality among discharged CHF patients from the ED.
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Emergency Tracheal Intubation in Patients with COVID-19: A Single-center, Retrospective Cohort Study
Introduction: The objective of this study was to compare airway management technique, performance, and peri-intubation complications during the novel coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) using a single-center cohort of patients requiring emergent intubation.
Methods: We retrospectively collected data on non-operating room (OR) intubations from February 1–April 23, 2020. All patients undergoing emergency intubation outside the OR were eligible for inclusion. Data were entered using an airway procedure note integrated within the electronic health record. Variables included level of training and specialty of the laryngoscopist, the patient’s indication for intubation, methods of intubation, induction and paralytic agents, grade of view, use of video laryngoscopy, number of attempts, and adverse events. We performed a descriptive analysis comparing intubations with an available positive COVID-19 test result with cases that had either a negative or unavailable test result.
Results: We obtained 406 independent procedure notes filed between February 1–April 23, 2020, and of these, 123 cases had a positive COVID-19 test result. Residents performed fewer tracheal intubations in COVID-19 cases when compared to nurse anesthetists (26.0% vs 37.4%). Video laryngoscopy was used significantly more in COVID-19 cases (91.1% vs 56.8%). No difference in first-pass success was observed between COVID-19 positive cases and controls (89.4% vs. 89.0%, p = 1.0). An increased rate of oxygen desaturation was observed in COVID-19 cases (20.3% vs. 9.9%) while there was no difference in the rate of other recorded complications and first-pass success.
Discussion: An average twofold increase in the rate of tracheal intubation was observed after March 24, 2020, corresponding with an influx of COVID-19 positive cases. We observed adherence to society guidelines regarding performance of tracheal intubation by an expert laryngoscopist and the use of video laryngoscopy.
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Introduction: The intraosseous (IO) route is one of the primary means of vascular access in critically ill and injured patients. The most common sites used are the proximal humerus, proximal tibia, and sternum. Sternal IO placement remains an often-overlooked option in emergency and prehospital medicine. Due to the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq the use of sternal IOs have increased.
Methods: The authors conducted a limited review, searching PubMed and Google Scholar databases for “sternal IO,” “sternal intraosseous,” and “intraosseous” without specific date limitations. A total of 47 articles were included in this review.
Results: Sternal IOs are currently FDA approved for ages 12 and older. Sternal IO access offers several anatomical, pharmacokinetic, hemodynamic, and logistical advantages over peripheral intravenous and other IO points of access. Sternal IO use carries many of the same risks and limitations as the humeral and tibial sites. Sternal IO gravity flow rates are sufficient for transfusing blood and resuscitation. In addition, studies demonstrated they are safe during active CPR.
Conclusion: The sternal IO route remains underutilized in civilian settings. When considering IO vascular access in adults or older children, medical providers should consider the sternum as the recommended IO access, particularly if the user is a novice with IO devices, increased flow rates are required, the patient has extremity trauma, or administration of a lipid soluble drug is anticipated.
Help Us Help You: Engaging Emergency Physicians to Identify Organizational Strategies to Reduce Burnout
Introduction: Burnout is a major threat to patient care quality and physician career longevity in emergency medicine. We sought to develop and implement a quality improvement process to engage emergency department (ED) faculty in identifying sources of burnout and generating interventions targeted at improving the work environment.
Methods: In this prospective interventional study conducted at a large, urban, academic medical center, we surveyed a 60-person faculty group using the Professional Fulfilment Index (PFI), as well as burnout-relevant questions from the American Medical Association’s Mini-Z survey and the Maslach-Leiter framework for organizational burnout, in order to identify organizational sources of burnout. We assessed the relationship between burnout scores and responses to the Maslach-Leiter framework using univariate regression analysis. In a two-hour facilitated session, we shared survey results and led the group in a process using the six Maslach-Leiter domains to develop a rank-ordered list of interventions to reduce burnout in each domain.
Results: In total, 47 of 60 faculty (78.3%) completed the survey and 45 faculty (75%) attended the discussion session. Of the 47 survey respondents, 14 (30%) met criteria for moderate to severe burnout. The respondents’ answers to the Maslach-Leiter organizational burnout domain questions were significantly correlated with their burnout scores (P <0.001). Session attendees generated 31 potential interventions for process improvement, which were analyzed and thematically organized. Common intervention themes included reducing documentation burden, receiving more positive feedback on patient care, improving ease of obtaining consults, decreasing ED crowding, and increasing intrafaculty social connection. Interventions were subsequently reviewed and scored based on relative importance and feasibility to create a departmental action plan for process improvement.
Conclusion: Using the Maslach-Leiter organizational burnout framework, in conjunction with a facilitated solution-oriented faculty discussion, led to the creation of a departmental agenda focused on organizational solutions for augmenting professional fulfillment and reducing burnout. We propose that this process can be used by healthcare organizations to engage physicians and others in efforts to improve their work experiences, which in turn is likely also to support the provision of higher quality of care.
Introduction: Workplace violence in the emergency department (ED) is a serious threat to staff and is likely to go unreported. We sought to identify the incidence of violence among staff at our academic ED over a six-month period.
Methods: An anonymous survey was sent to all ED staff, asking whether respondents had experienced verbal abuse or physical assault over the prior six months and whether they had reported it. Those working in the department <6 months were excluded from analysis. We used chi-squared comparison to analyze the results.
Results: We analyzed 242 responses. Overall, 208 (86%) respondents indicated being verbally abused in the preceding six months, and 90 (37%) indicated being physically assaulted. Security officers had the highest incidence of verbal abuse (98%), followed by nursing (95%), patient care assistants (PCA) (90%) and clinicians (90%), phlebotomists (75%), care team assistants (73%), registration staff (50%) and electrocardiogram (ECG)/radiology technicians (50%). Security also had the highest incidence of physical assault (73%), followed by nursing (49%), PCAs (30%), clinicians (24%), phlebotomists (17%), and ECG/radiology technicians (13%). A total of 140 (69%) non-security personnel indicated that they never report incidents of violence.
Conclusion: Our results indicate that violence in the ED affects more than just nurses and doctors. As health systems seek to improve the safety of their employees in violence-prone areas, it is imperative that they direct initiatives to the entire healthcare team as no one group is immune.
Population Health Research Design
Introduction: The objective of this study was to analyze the messages of influential emergency medicine (EM) Twitter users in the United States (US) during the early stages of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) global pandemic by characterizing the themes, emotional tones, temporal viewpoints, and depth of engagement with the tweets.
Methods: We performed a retrospective mixed-methods analysis of publicly available Twitter data derived from the publicly available “Coronavirus Tweet IDs” dataset, March 3, 2020–May 1, 2020. Original tweets and modified retweets in the dataset by 50 influential EM Twitter users in the US were analyzed using linguistic software to report the emotional tone and temporal viewpoint. We qualitatively analyzed a 25% random subsample and report themes.
Results: There were 1315 tweets available in the dataset from 36/50 influential EM Twitter users in the US. The majority of tweets were either positive (455/1315, 34.6%) or neutral (407/1315, 31%) in tone and focused on the present (1009/1315, 76.7%). Qualitative analysis identified six distinct themes, with users most often sharing news or clinical information.
Conclusions: During the early weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic, influential EM Twitter users in the US delivered mainly positive or neutral messages, most often pertaining to news stories or information directly relating to patient care. The majority of these messages led to engagement by other users. This study underscores how EM influencers can leverage social media in public health outbreaks to bring attention to topics of importance.
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Introduction: In 2019 the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) released draft guidelines recommending universal hepatitis C virus (HCV) screening for individuals aged 18-79. We aimed to assess the efficacy of an Emergency Department-based HCV screening program, by comparing screening practices before and after its implementation.
Methods: We performed a retrospective cohort analysis of two temporally-matched, 11-month study periods, corresponding to before and after the implementation of a best practice advisory (BPA). Patients were screened for anti-HCV antibody (Ab) and positive results were followed by HCV viral load (VL) testing. The primary implementation outcome was ED testing volume (number of tests performed/month). The primary screening outcomes were the seroprevalence of anti-HCV Ab and HCV VL. Data were described with simple descriptive statistics.
Results: The median age of patients was similar between periods (pre: 50 years [IQR 34-62], post: 47 years [IQR 33-59]). Patients screened were more likely to be males in the pre-BPA period (Male, pre:60%, post: 49%). During the pre-BPA study period, a total of 69,604 patients were seen in the ED, and 218 unique patients were screened for HCV (mean 19.8 tests/month). During the post-BPA study period, a total of 68,225 patients were seen in the ED, and 14, 981 unique patients were screened for HCV (mean 1,361.9 tests/month). Anti-HCV Ab seroprevalence was 23% (51/218) and 9% (1,340/14,981) in the pre-BPA and post-BPA periods, respectively. In the pre-BPA period, six patients with a positive anti-HCV Ab level had follow-up viral load testing (three were detectable). In the post-BPA period, reflex VL testing was performed in most patients (91%, 1,225/1,340), and there were 563 patients with detectable VLs.
Conclusion: Our study shows that utilizing a universal BPA-driven screening protocol can dramatically increase the number of patients screened for HCV and increase the number of new HCV diagnoses.
Emergency Department Operations
Introduction: Our study aimed to determine 1) the association between time spent in the emergency department (ED) hallway and the development of delirium and 2) the hospital location of delirium development.
Methods: This single-center, retrospective chart review included patients 18+ years old admitted to the hospital after presenting, without baseline cognitive impairment, to the ED in 2018. We identified the Delirium group by the following: key words describing delirium; orders for psychotropics, special observation, and restraints; or documented positive Confusion Assessment Method (CAM) screen. The Control group included patients not meeting delirium criteria. We used a multivariable logistic regression model, while adjusting for confounders, to assess the odds of delirium development associated with percentage of ED LOS spent in the hallway.
Results: A total of 25,156 patients met inclusion criteria with 1920 (7.6%) meeting delirium criteria. Delirium group vs. Control group patients spent a greater percentage of time in the ED hallway (median 50.5% vs 10.8%, P<0.001); had longer ED LOS (median 11.94 vs 8.12 hours, P<0.001); had more ED room transfers (median 5 vs 4, P<0.001); and had longer hospital LOS (median 5.0 vs 4.6 days, P<0.001). Patients more frequently developed delirium in the ED (77.5%) than on inpatient units (22.5%). The relative odds of a patient developing delirium increased by 3.31 times for each percent increase in ED hallway time (95% confidence interval, 2.85, 3.83).
Conclusion: Patients with delirium had more ED hallway exposure, longer ED LOS, and more ED room transfers. Understanding delirium in the ED has substantial implications for improving patient safety.
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Emergency Medical Services
Introduction: Extreme heat is a significant cause of morbidity and mortality, and the incidence of acute heat illness (AHI) will likely increase secondary to anthropogenic climate change. Prompt diagnosis and treatment of AHI are critical; however, relevant diagnostic and surveillance tools have received little attention. In this exploratory cross-sectional and diagnostic accuracy study, we evaluated three tools for use in the prehospital setting: 1) case definitions; 2) portable loggers to measure on-scene heat exposure; and 3) prevalence data for potential AHI risk factors.
Methods: We enrolled 480 patients who presented to emergency medical services with chief complaints consistent with AHI in Ahmedabad, India, from April–June 2016 in a cross-sectional study. We evaluated AHI case definition test characteristics in reference to trained prehospital provider impressions, compared on-scene heat index measured by portable loggers to weather station measurements, and identified AHI behavioral and environmental risk factors using logistic regression.
Results: The case definition for heat exhaustion was 23.8% (12.1-39.5%) sensitive and 93.6% (90.9-95.7%) specific. The positive and negative predictive values were 33.5% (20.8-49.0%) and 90.1% (88.5-91.5%), respectively. Mean scene heat index was 6.7°C higher than the mean station heat index (P < 0.001), and station data systematically underestimated heat exposure, particularly for AHI cases. Heat exhaustion cases were associated with on-scene heat index ≥ 49°C (odds ratio [OR] 2.66 [1.13–6.25], P = 0.025) and a history of recent exertion (OR 3.66 [1.30–10.29], P = 0.014), while on-scene air conditioning was protective (OR 0.29 [0.10–0.85], P = 0.024).
Conclusion: Systematic collection of prehospital data including recent activity history and presence of air conditioning can facilitate early AHI detection, timely intervention, and surveillance. Scene temperature data can be reliably collected and improve heat exposure and AHI risk assessment. Such data may be important elements of surveillance, clinical practice, and climate change adaptation.
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Paramedic-performed Prehospital Point-of-care Ultrasound for Patients with Undifferentiated Dyspnea: A Pilot Study
Introduction: Thoracic ultrasound is frequently used in the emergency department (ED) to determine the etiology of dyspnea, yet its use is not widespread in the prehospital setting. We sought to investigate the feasibility and diagnostic performance of paramedic acquisition and assessment of thoracic ultrasound images in the prehospital environment, specifically for the detection of B-lines in congestive heart failure (CHF).
Methods: This was a prospective observational study of a convenience sample of adult patients with a chief complaint of dyspnea. Paramedics participated in a didactic and hands-on session instructing them how to use a portable ultrasound device. Paramedics assessed patients for the presence of B-lines. Sensitivity and specificity for the presence of bilateral B-lines and any B-lines were calculated based on discharge diagnosis. Clips archived to the ultrasound units were reviewed and paramedic interpretations were compared to expert sonologist interpretations.
Results: A total of 63 paramedics completed both didactic and hands-on training, and 22 performed ultrasounds in the field. There were 65 patients with B-line findings recorded and a discharge diagnosis for analysis. The presence of bilateral B-lines for diagnosis of CHF yielded a sensitivity of 80.0% (95% confidence interval [CI], 51.4-94.7%) and specificity of 72.0% (95% CI, 57.3-83.3), while presence of any B-lines was 93.3% sensitive (95% CI, 66.0-99.7%), and 50% specific (95% CI, 35.7-64.2%) for CHF. Paramedics archived 117 ultrasound clips of which 63% were determined to be adequate for interpretation. Comparison of paramedic and expert sonologist interpretation of images showed good inter-rater agreement for detection of any B-lines (k = 0.60; 95% CI, 0.36-0.84).
Conclusion: This observational pilot study suggests that prehospital lung ultrasound for B-lines may aid in identifying or excluding CHF as a cause of dyspnea. The presence of bilateral B-lines as determined by paramedics is reasonably sensitive and specific for the diagnosis of CHF and pulmonary edema, while the absence of B lines is likely to exclude significant decompensated heart failure. The study was limited by being a convenience sample and highlighted some of the difficulties related to prehospital research. Larger funded trials will be needed to provide more definitive data.
Introduction: Our goal was to determine whether implementation of a prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP) altered emergency department (ED) opioid prescription rates overall and in patients of different pain severities.
Methods: We conducted this single-center, retrospective review at an academic ED. The study examined patients discharged from the ED who received opioid prescriptions, before and after the state’s implementation of a PDMP (August 25, 2016). The monthly rate was a ratio of the patients given ≥ 1 opioid prescription to the ED patients with a numeric pain rating scale (NPRS) > 0. We performed an interrupted time series analysis on each demographic.
Results: The overall ED opioid prescription rate decreased from 51.3% (95% confidence interval [Cl], 50.4%-52.2%) to 47.9% (95% Cl, 47.0%- 48.7%). For males, this decreased from 51.1% to 46.7% (P < 0.0001), while in females it did not significantly change (51.6% to 49.7% [P = 0.0529]). For those with mild pain, the rate increased from 27.5% to 34.3% (P < 0.0001), while for those with moderate pain, it did not significantly change (42.8% to 43.5% [P = 0.5924]). For those with severe pain, the rate decreased from 66.1% to 59.6% (P < 0.0001).
Conclusion: We found that PDMP implementation was associated with an overall decrease in opioid prescription rates, and that patients with mild pain were prescribed opioids more often while severe pain patients were prescribed opioids less often.
Disaster Medicine/ Emergency Medical Services
Introduction: Natural disasters are increasingly common and devastating. It is essential to understand children’s health needs during disasters as they are a particularly vulnerable population. The objective of this study was to evaluate pediatric disease burden after Hurricane Harvey compared to the preceding month and the same period in the previous year to inform pediatric disaster preparedness.
Methods: This was a retrospective cross-sectional study of patients seen at pediatric emergency departments (ED) and urgent care centers (UCC) 30 days before (late summer) and after (early fall) the hurricane and from the same time period in 2016. We collected demographic information and the first five discharge diagnoses from a network of EDs and UCCs affiliated with a quaternary care children’s hospital in Houston, Texas. We calculated the odds of disease outcomes during various timeframes using binary logistic regression modeling.
Results: There were 20,571 (median age: 3.5 years, 48.1% female) and 18,943 (median age: 3.5 years, 47.3% female) patients in 2016 and 2017, respectively. Inpatient admission rates from the ED a month after Harvey were 20.5%, compared to 25.3% in the same period in 2016 (P<0.001). In both years, asthma and other respiratory illnesses increased from late summer to early fall. After controlling for these seasonal trends, the following diseases were more commonly seen after the hurricane: toxicological emergencies (adjusted odds ratio [aOR]: 2.61, 95% [confidence interval] CI, 1.35-5.05); trauma (aOR: 1.42, 95% CI, 1.32-1.53); and dermatological complaints (aOR: 1.34, 95% CI, 1.23-1.46).
Conclusion: We observed increases in rashes, trauma, and toxicological diagnoses in children after a major flood. These findings highlight the need for more medication resources and public health and education measures focused on pediatric disaster preparedness and management.
- 4 supplemental files
Introduction: Unintended pregnancy disproportionately affects marginalized populations and has significant negative health and financial impacts on women, their families, and society. The emergency department (ED) is a promising alternative setting to increase access to sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services including contraception, especially among marginalized populations. The primary objective of this study was to determine the extent to which adult women of childbearing age who present to the ED would be receptive to receiving contraception and/or information about contraception in the ED. As a secondary objective, we sought to identify the barriers faced in attempting to obtain SRH care in the past.
Methods: We conducted a quantitative, cross-sectional, assisted, in-person survey of women aged 18-50 in the ED setting at two large, urban, academic EDs between June 2018–September 2019. The survey was approved by the institutional review board. Survey items included demographics, interest in contraception initiation and/or receiving information about contraception in the ED, desire to conceive, prior SRH care utilization, and barriers to SRH.
Results: A total of 505 patients participated in the survey. Participants were predominantly single and Black, with a mean age of 31 years, and reporting not wanting to become pregnant in the next year. Of those participants, 55.2% (n = 279) stated they would be interested in receiving information about birth control AND receiving birth control in the ED if it were available. Of those who reported the ability to get pregnant, and not desiring pregnancy in the next year (n = 279, 55.2%), 32.6% were not currently using anything to prevent pregnancy (n = 91). Only 10.5% of participants stated they had experienced barriers to SRH care in the past (n = 53). Participants who experienced barriers to SRH reported higher interest in receiving information and birth control in the ED (74%, n = 39) compared to those who had not experienced barriers (53%, n = 240); (P = 0.004, 95% confidence interval, 1.30-4.66).
Conclusion: The majority of women of childbearing age indicated the desire to access contraception services in the ED setting. This finding suggests favorable patient acceptability for an implementation study of contraception services in emergency care.
- 1 supplemental file
Technology in Emergency Medicine
Ultrasound Hypotension Protocol Time-motion Study Using the Multifrequency Single Transducer Versus a Multiple Transducer Ultrasound Device
Introduction: Ultrasound hypotension protocols (UHP) involve imaging multiple body areas, each with different transducers and imaging presets. The time for task switching between presets and transducers to perform an UHP has not been previously studied. A novel hand-carried ultrasound (HCU) has been developed that uses a multifrequency single transducer to image areas of the body (lung, heart, abdomen, superficial) that would typically require three transducers using a traditional cart-based ultrasound (CBU) system. Our primary aim was to compare the time to complete UHPs with a single transducer HCU to a multiple transducer CBU.
Methods: We performed a randomized, crossover feasibility trial in the emergency department of an urban, safety-net hospital. This was a convenience sample of non-hypotensive emergency department patients presenting during a two-month period of time. Ultrasound hypotension protocols were performed by emergency physicians (EP) on patients using the HCU and the CBU. The EPs collected UHP views in sequential order using the most appropriate transducer and preset for the area/organ to be imaged. Time to complete each view, time for task switching, total time to complete the examination, and image diagnostic quality were recorded.
Results: A total of 29 patients were scanned by one of eight EPs. When comparing the HCU to the CBU, the median time to complete the UHP was 4.3 vs 8.5 minutes (P <0.0001), respectively. When the transport and plugin times were excluded, the median times were 4.1 vs 5.8 minutes (P <0.0001), respectively. There was no difference in the diagnostic quality of images obtained by the two devices.
Conclusion: Ultrasound hypotension protocols were performed significantly faster using the single transducer HCU compared to a multiple transducer CBU with no difference in the number of images deemed to be diagnostic quality.
Intracranial Traumatic Hematoma Detection in Children Using a Portable Near-infrared Spectroscopy Device
Introduction: We sought to validate a handheld, near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) device for detecting intracranial hematomas in children with head injury.
Methods: Eligible patients were those <18 years old who were admitted to the emergency department at three academic children’s hospitals with head trauma and who received a clinically indicated head computed tomography (HCT). Measurements were obtained by a blinded operator in bilateral frontal, temporal, parietal, and occipital regions. Qualifying hematomas were a priori determined to be within the brain scanner’s detection limits of >3.5 milliliters in volume and <2.5 centimeters from the surface of the brain. The device’s measurements were positive if the difference in optical density between hemispheres was >0.2 on three successive scans. We calculated diagnostic performance measures with corresponding exact two-sided 95% Clopper-Pearson confidence intervals (CI). Hypothesis test evaluated whether predictive performance exceeded chance agreement (predictive Youden’s index > 0).
Results: A total of 464 patients were enrolled and 344 met inclusion for primary data analysis: 10.5% (36/344) had evidence of a hematoma on HCT, and 4.7% (16/344) had qualifying hematomas. The handheld brain scanner demonstrated a sensitivity of 58.3% (21/36) and specificity of 67.9% (209/308) for hematomas of any size. For qualifying hematomas the scanner was designed to detect, sensitivity was 81% (13/16) and specificity was 67.4% (221/328). Predictive performance exceeded chance agreement with a predictive Youden’s index of 0.11 (95% CI, 0.10 – 0.15; P < 0.001) for all hematomas, and 0.09 (95% CI, 0.08 – 0.12; P < 0.001) for qualifying hematomas.
Conclusion: The handheld brain scanner can non-invasively detect a subset of intracranial hematomas in children and may serve an adjunctive role to head-injury neuroimaging decision rules that predict the risk of clinically significant intracranial pathology after head trauma.
- 2 supplemental PDFs
Virtual Emergency Medicine Clerkship Curriculum during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Development, Application, and Outcomes
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a significant catalyst for change in medical education and clinical care. The traditional model of bedside clinical teaching in required advanced clerkships was upended on March 17, 2020, when the Association of American Medical Colleges recommended removing medical students from direct patient care to prevent further spread of the disease and also to help conserve scarce personal protective equipment (PPE). This created unique challenges for delivering a robust, advanced emergency medicine (EM) clerkship since the emergency department is ground zero for the undifferentiated and potentially infected patient and has high demand for PPE. Here, we describe the development, application, and program evaluation of an online-based, virtual advanced EM curriculum developed rapidly in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Starting March 23, 2020, we began rotating fourth-year medical students through a four-week rotation. We completed a total of four virtual clerkship experiences comprised of 56 students through July 27, 2020. Through analysis of the students’ performance on a national standardized EM shelf exam, students participating in this virtual clerkship demonstrated a fund of knowledge that was not significantly different from that of their peers who completed a traditional clerkship in the specialty prior to the pandemic interruptions. Additionally, the critical review of the traditional course created the opportunity to make improvements and enrich the medical student educational experience in a virtual environment and upon resumption of the traditional course when students returned to the in-person environment. The resources provided for those interested in adopting our pedagogical approach include a course syllabus, calendar, and learner summative assessment.
- 3 supplemental files