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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Volume 23, Issue 2, 2022

Endemic Infections

Hepatitis C Virus Reflex Testing Protocol in an Emergency Department

Introduction: Our aim was to measure hepatitis C virus (HCV) screening and linkage-to-care rates in an urban emergency department (ED) before and after implementing an HCV viral RNA (vRNA) reflex testing protocol within a HCV screening program for at-risk patients. Our hypothesis was that using a reflex testing protocol would increase HCV testing rates of at-risk patients in the ED, which would increase the linkage-to-care rate.

Methods: In August 2018, our institution implemented an automated, electronic health record-based HCV screening protocol in the ED for at-risk patients. In January 2019, we implemented an HCV vRNA reflex testing protocol (reflex testing) for all positive HCV antibody (Ab) tests that were initiated through the screening protocol. We compared completion rates of HCV vRNA testing and the rate of linkage to care for patients with positive HCV Ab test results before and after implementation of reflex testing (five months per study period).

Results: Prior to reflex testing implementation, 233/425 (55%) patients with a positive HCV Ab test had an HCV vRNA test performed, whereas 270/323 (84%) patients with a positive HCV Ab test result had vRNA testing after reflex testing implementation (odds ratio [OR], 4.2; 95% confidence interval (CI): 3.0-6.0; P < 0.001). Of the eligible patients with positive HCV Ab test results who could be linked to care, 45 (10.6%) were linked to care before HCV reflex implementation and 46 (14.2%) were linked to care with reflex testing (OR, 1.4; 95% CI: 0.9-2.2; P = 0.13).

Conclusion: Implementing a reflex testing initiative into an HCV screening program in the ED can result in an increase of the percentage of patients who receive an HCV vRNA test after having had a positive HCV Ab. Hepatitis C virus vRNA reflex testing was not associated with a statistically significant increase in linkage-to-care rates for HCV Ab-positive patients; however, further studies are required.

Cloud-Based Influenza Surveillance System in Emergency Departments Using Molecular-Based Testing: Advances and Challenges

Introduction: Electronic influenza surveillance systems aid in health surveillance and clinical decisionmaking within the emergency department (ED). While major advances have been made in integrating clinical decision-making tools within the electronic health record (EHR), tools for sharing surveillance data are often piecemeal, with the need for data downloads and manual uploads to shared servers, delaying time from data acquisition to end-user. Real-time surveillance can help both clinicians and public health professionals recognize circulating influenza earlier in the season and provide ongoing situational awareness.

Methods: We created a prototype, cloud-based, real-time reporting system in two large, academically affiliated EDs that streamed continuous data on a web-based dashboard within hours of specimen collection during the influenza season. Data included influenza test results (positive or negative) coupled with test date, test instrument geolocation, and basic patient demographics. The system provided immediate reporting to frontline clinicians and to local, state, and federal health department partners.

Results: We describe the process, infrastructure requirements, and challenges of developing and implementing the prototype system. Key process-related requirements for system development included merging data from the molecular test (GeneXpert) with the hospitals’ EHRs, securing data, authorizing/ authenticating users, and providing permissions for data access refining visualizations for end-users.

Conclusion: In this case study, we effectively integrated multiple data systems at four distinct hospital EDs, relaying data in near real time to hospital-based staff and local and national public health entities, to provide laboratory-confirmed influenza test results during the 2014-2015 influenza season. Future innovations need to focus on integrating the dashboard within the EHR and clinical decision tools.

Clinician Absences and Contributing Factors During a COVID-19 Surge: Potential Areas for Intervention and Planning

Introduction: Our goal was to quantify healthcare clinician (HCC) absenteeism in the emergency department (ED) during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) surge and to identify potential interventions that may mitigate the number of absences.

Methods: This was a retrospective, descriptive record review that included 82 resident physicians, physician assistants, and staff physicians who were scheduled to work more than three clinical shifts during March 2020 in an urban, academic ED that received a high number of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) patients. Exposure was defined as a healthcare clinician who was not wearing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) having contact with a confirmed COVID-19 positive patient in the ED. The main outcome was the number of HCC absences secondary to exposure to or symptoms concerning for COVID-19.

Results: During March 2020, of 82 ED HCCs, 28 (34%) required an absence from clinical duties, totaling 152 absentee calendar days (N = 13 women [46%]; N = 15 men [54%]). Median HCC age was 32 years (interquartile range 28-39), and median number of days absent was four (interquartile range 3-7). While 16 (57%) of the total absences were secondary to a known exposure, 12 (43%) were symptomatic without a known exposure. A total of 25 (89%) absent HCCs received COVID-19 testing (N = 5 positive [20%]; N = 20 negative [80%]) with test results returning in 1-10 days. Eleven (39%) symptomatic HCCs had traveled domestically or internationally in the prior 30 days.

Conclusion: Emergency departments should anticipate substantial HCC absences during the initial surge of a pandemic. Possible interventions to mitigate absences include early and broad use of PPE, planning for many asymptomatic HCC absences secondary to exposures, prioritizing HCC virus testing, and mandating early travel restrictions.

  • 1 supplemental ZIP

Community Hospital Response to COVID-19 Outbreak

Since early 2020, the world has been living through coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Westchester County, New York, was one of the hardest and earliest hit places in the United States. Working within a community emergency department amid the rise of a highly infectious disease such as COVID-19 presented many challenges, including appropriate isolation, adequate testing, personnel shortages, supply shortfalls, facility changes, and resource allocation. Here we discuss our process in navigating these complexities, including the practice changes implemented within our institution to counter these unprecedented issues. These adjustments included establishing three outdoor tents to serve as triage areas; creating overflow intensive care units through conversion of areas that had previously served as the ambulatory surgery unit, post-anesthesia care unit, and endoscopy suite; increasing critical care staff to meet unprecedented need; anticipating and adapting to medical supply shortages; and adjusting resident physician roles to meet workflow requirements. By analyzing and improving upon the processes delineated below, our healthcare system should be better prepared for future pandemics.

Emergency Department Operations

Untapped Potential for Emergency Department Observation Unit Use: A National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NHAMCS) Study

Introduction: Millions of people present to the emergency department (ED) with chest pain annually. Accurate and timely risk stratification is important to identify potentially life-threatening conditions such as acute coronary syndrome (ACS). An ED-based observation unit can be used to rapidly evaluate patients and reduce ED crowding, but the practice is not universal. We estimated the number of current hospital admissions in the United States (US) eligible for ED-based observation services for patients with symptoms of ACS.

Methods: In this cross-sectional analysis we used data from the 2011-2015 National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NHAMCS). Visits were included if patients presented with symptoms of ACS (eg, chest pain, dyspnea), had an electrocardiogram (ECG) and cardiac markers, and were admitted to the hospital. We excluded patients with any of the following: discharge diagnosis of myocardial infarction; cardiac arrest; congestive heart failure, or unstable angina; admission to an intensive care unit; hospital length of stay > 2 days; alteplase administration, central venous catheter insertion, cardiopulmonary resuscitation or endotracheal intubation; or admission after an initial ED observation stay. We extracted data on sociodemographics, hospital characteristics, triage level, disposition from the ED, and year of ED extracted from the NHAMCS. Descriptive statistics were performed using sampling weights to produce national estimates of ED visits. We provide medians with interquartile ranges for continuous variables and percentages with 95% confidence intervals for categorical variables.

Results: During 2011-2015 there were an estimated 675,883,000 ED visits in the US. Of these, 14,353,000 patients with symptoms of ACS and an ED order for an ECG or cardiac markers were admitted to the hospital. We identified 1,883,000 visits that were amenable to ED observation services, where 987,000 (52.4%) were male patients, and 1,318,000 (70%) were White. Further-more, 739,000 (39.2%) and 234,000 (12.4%) were paid for by Medicare and Medicaid, respectively. The majority (45.1%) of observation-amenable hospitalizations were in the Southern US.

Conclusion: Emergency department-based observation unit services for suspected ACS appear to be underused. Over half of potentially observation-amenable admissions were paid for by Medicare and Medicaid. Implementation of ED-based observation units would especially benefit hospitals and patients in the American South.

Association of Emergency Department Payer Mix with ED Receipt of Telehealth Services: An Observational Analysis

Introduction: Telehealth is commonly used to connect emergency department (ED) patients with specialists or resources required for their care. Its infrastructure requires substantial upfront and ongoing investment from an ED or hospital and may be more difficult to implement in lower-resourced settings. Our aim was to examine for an association between ED payer mix and receipt of telehealth services.

Methods: Using data from the National Emergency Department Inventory (NEDI)-USA 2016 survey, we categorized EDs based on receipt of telehealth services (yes/no). The NEDI-USA data for EDs in New York state was linked with data from state ED datasets (SEDD) and state inpatient data (SID) to determine EDs’ payer mix (percent self-pay or Medicaid). Other ED characteristics of interest were rural location, academic status, and annual ED visit volume. We compared EDs with and without telehealth receipt, and used a logistic regression model to examine the relationship between ED payer mix and telehealth receipt after accounting for other ED characteristics.

Results: Of the 162 New York EDs in the SEDD-SID dataset, 160 (99%) were linked to the NEDI-USA dataset and 133 of those responded (83%) to the survey. Telehealth receipt was reported by 48 EDs (36%, 95% confidence interval [CI], 28-44%). Emergency departments with and without telehealth receipt were similar (all P >0.40) with respect to rurality (6% vs 9%, respectively), academic status (13% vs 8%), and annual volume (median 36,728 vs 43,000). By contrast, median percent of Medicaid or self-pay patients was lower in telehealth EDs (36%) vs non-telehealth EDs (45%, P = 0.02). In adjusted analysis, increasing proportion of Medicaid and self-pay patients was associated with decreased odds of telehealth receipt (odds ratio 0.87 per 5% increase; 95% CI, 0.77-0.99). Rural location, academic status, and ED volume were not significantly associated with odds of ED telehealth receipt in the adjusted model.

Conclusion: Among EDs in the state of New York, increasing proportion of self-pay and Medicaid patients was associated with decreased odds of ED telehealth receipt, even after accounting for rural location, academic status, and ED volume. The findings support the need for additional infrastructural investment in EDs serving a greater proportion of disadvantaged patients to ensure equitable access.

Early Rooming Triage: Accuracy and Demographic Factors Associated with Clinical Acuity

Introduction: Early rooming triage increases patient throughput and satisfaction by rapidly assigning patients to a definitive care area, without using vital signs or detailed chart review. Despite these operational benefits, the clinical accuracy of early rooming triage is not well known. We sought to measure the accuracy of early rooming triage and uncover additional patient characteristics that can assist triage.

Methods: We conducted a single-center, retrospective population study of walk-in emergency department (ED) patients presenting to the ED via an early rooming triage system, examining triage accuracy and demographic factor correlation with higher acuity ED outcomes.

Results: Among all patients included from the three-year study period (N = 238,457), early rooming triage was highly sensitive (0.89) and less specific (0.61) for predicting which patients would have a severe outcome in the ED. Patients triaged to the lowest acuity area of the ED experienced severe outcomes in 4.39% of cases, while patients triaged to the highest acuity area of the ED experienced severe outcomes in 65.9% of cases. An age of greater than 43 years (odds ratio [OR] 3.48, 95% confidence interval: 3.40, 3.57) or patient’s home address farther from the ED ([OR] 2.23 to 3.08) were highly correlated with severe outcomes. Multivariable models incorporating triage team judgment were robust for predicting severe outcomes at triage, with an area under the receiver operating characteristic of 0.82.

Conclusion: Early rooming workflows are appropriately sensitive for ED triage. Consideration of demographic factors, automated or otherwise, can augment ED processes to provide optimal triage.


  • 1 supplemental PDF

Behavioral Health

Association of Suicide Attempt with Stimulant Abuse in California Emergency Departments in 2011: A Study of 10 Million ED Visits

Introduction: Our goal in this study was to identify stimulant abuser patients who are at specifically high risk of suicide attempt (SAT), in order to prioritize them in preventive and risk mitigation programs.

Methods: We used the California State Emergency Department Database (SEDD) to obtain discharge information for 2011. The SEDD contains discharge information on all outpatient ED encounters, including uninsured patients and those covered by Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance. We identified SAT and stimulant abuse by using the relevant International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision, codes.

Results: The study included 10,124,598 outpatient ED visits. Stimulant abuse was observed in 0.97% of ED visits. Stimulant abuse was more common among young and middle-aged males and people with low median household income. Moreover, it was more common among Native American (1.8%) and Black (1.8%), followed by non-Hispanic White (1.1%) patients. The prevalence of SAT was 2.0% (N = 2000) for ED visits by patients with a history of stimulant abuse, and 0.3% (N = 28,606) for ED visits without a history of stimulant abuse (odds ratio 7.29, 95% confidence interval, 6.97-7.64). The SATs were directly associated with stimulant abuse, younger age (age groups >10), and non-Hispanic White and Native American race. Association of SAT with stimulant abuse was stronger in female patients.

Conclusion: Stimulant abuse was the only modifiable risk factor for suicide attempt in our study. Reaching out to populations with higher prevalence of stimulant abuse (young and middle-aged individuals who are Native American or Black, with lower household income) to control the stimulant abuse problem, may reduce the risk of SAT. In this regard, people who are at higher risk of SAT due to non-modifiable risk factors (younger age, and Native American or White race) should be prioritized. Moreover, controlling stimulant abuse among women may be specifically effective in SAT prevention.

Association of Blood Alcohol and Alcohol Use Disorders with Emergency Department Disposition of Trauma Patients

Introduction: Trauma patients who present to the emergency department (ED) intoxicated or with an alcohol use disorder (AUD) undergo more procedures and have an increased risk of developing complications. However, how AUD and blood alcohol concentration (BAC) impact a trauma patient’s disposition from the ED remains inconclusive. In this study we aimed to identify the associations between positive BAC or an AUD with admission to the hospital, including the intensive care unit (ICU).

Methods: This was a retrospective study analyzing data from 2010–2018 at a university-based, Level I trauma ED. Included in the study were 4,699 adult trauma patients who completed the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) and had blood alcohol content test results. 

Results: Positive BAC was associated with hospital admission and ICU admission after adjusting for injury severity score (ISS) (odds ratio 1.5 and 1.3, respectively). The AUDIT was only correlated with hospital and ICU admission in patients with ISS of 1 to 15. By increasing risk of AUD (low, moderate, high, and likely alcohol dependent) the proportion of ICU admissions rose from 29.3% to 37.3%, 40.0% and 42.0% (P <0.01). The results did not change significantly by adjustment for the age of patients.

Conclusion: BAC is associated with increasing ED disposition to the hospital or ICU. Furthermore, self-reported alcohol use was associated with an increased risk of hospital or ICU admission in patients with minor or moderate injuries. Further studies to determine viable options to decrease admission rates in these patients are warranted.

  • 1 supplemental PDF
  • 3 supplemental ZIPs

Substance Use-related Emergency Department Visits and Resource Utilization

Introduction: Substance use-related visits to the emergency department (ED) have been linked to higher service delivery costs, although little is known about the specific services used. Our goal In this study was to describe the recent trends of substance use-related ED visits and assess the association between substance use and specific ED resource utilization. 

Methods: We performed a retrospective, cross-sectional study using the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NHAMCS) data from 2013–2018. All ED visits in the United States for patients ≥18 years of age were included. The primary exposure was having substance use included as a chief complaint or diagnosis, which we identified using the International Classification of Diseases, 9th and 10th revisions, codes. The primary outcome was the use of diagnostic services (including laboratory studies and cardiac monitoring) or imaging studies in the ED. 

Results: The study sample included 95,506 visits in the US, extrapolating to over 619 million ED visits nationwide. The total number of ED visits remained stable during the study period, but substance use-related visits increased by 45%, with these visits making up 2.93% of total ED visits in 2013 and 4.25% in 2018. This increase was primarily driven by stimulant-, sedative- (opioids and benzodiazepines), and hallucinogen-related visits. Mental health-related visits rose in parallel by 66% during the same period. Compared to non-substance use-related visits, substance use-related visits were more likely to undergo any diagnostic study (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] 1.28; 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.11-1.47; P = 0.001), toxicology screening (aOR 10.15; 95% CI: 8.84-11.66), but less likely to have imaging studies (aOR 0.62; 95% CI: 0.56-0.68; P <0.0001). In stratified analyses, substance use-related visits with concurrent mental health disorders were more likely to undergo imaging studies (aOR 1.56; 95% CI: 1.09-2.22), while findings were opposite for those without concurrent mental health disorders (aOR 0.64; 95% CI: 0.51-0.71; P for interaction <0.0001). 

Conclusion: Substance use- and mental health-related ED visits are rising, and they are associated with increased resource utilization. Further studies are needed to provide more guidance in the approach to acute services in this vulnerable population.

Injury Prevention and Population Health

Up in Flames: The Safety of Electrocautery Trephination of Subungual Hematomas with Acrylic Nails

Introduction: Subungual hematomas are fingertip injuries, generally secondary to blunt trauma, that cause pain due to an accumulation of blood under the fingernail. It is generally considered standard of practice to relieve this accumulation by means of trephination with a hollow tip needle, a heated paper clip, or electrocautery. It has been assumed that due to the flammable properties of acrylic, trephination via electrocautery has the potential to ignite acrylic nails and cause burns and other potentially serious injury, making electrocautery contraindicated in patients with acrylic nails. Our thorough literature review failed to support or refute this assumption; so in the interest of ensuring that this practice is evidence-based, we sought to explore this topic.

Methods: In this study we used electrocautery trephination on acrylic nail products attached to simulated digits and recorded the presence and frequency of ignition events. We hypothesized that ignition would occur with sufficient frequency to support continuing the practice of avoiding electrocautery trephination in subungual hematomas with overlying acrylic nails.

Results: In our study, we exposed 200 acrylic nails to trephination with electrocautery, and 83 nails ignited (41.5%).

Conclusion: While other variables exist, these findings do support the current practice pattern of avoiding trephination with electrocautery in those patients with acrylic nails overlying subungual hematomas.

Incidence of Emergency Department Visits for Electric Rental Scooters Using Detailed Ridership Data

Introduction: Electric scooter (e-scooter) rental usage has increased exponentially around the country, expanding to more than 120 cities by the end of 2018. Early attempts to capture the safety effects of widespread adoption of this technology have been hampered by lack of accurate ridership data. Here we describe a 17-month evolution of ridership characteristics in St. Louis, Missouri, and the frequency of e-scooter rental-related injuries serious enough to require an emergency department (ED) visit over this time frame; we also provide estimates of incidence rates of injuries based on company ridership data. 

Methods: We performed a combination retrospective chart review and prospective questionnaire-based analysis of adult e-scooter rental-related ED visits in both downtown St. Louis Level 1 trauma centers during the first 17 months of e-scooter rental usage (August 2018-December 2019). The retrospective portion focused on demographics, alcohol use, helmet use, disposition, operative repair, and temporal and severity markers. The prospective portion focused on more detailed crash and rider data. Finally, we used ridership data from both e-scooter rental companies in St. Louis to estimate incidence and temporal trends.

Results: A total of 221 patients had e-scooter rental-related ED visits. The median age of our population was 31 years with 58.8% male and 53.8% White. There were no deaths. Ninety-two patients were found to have fractures with 38% requiring surgery. Of the 21 patients diagnosed with head injury, five had an intracranial bleed. Overall incidence of ED visits related to e-scooters was 2.1 per 10,000 trips and 2.2 per 10,000 miles with the number of ED visits by month closely correlated with the number of rides per month (Pearson correlation coefficient = 0.95).

Conclusion: The number of e-scooter rental-related injuries seen in St. Louis trauma centers was relatively low and correlated closely with overall number of rides. The number of injuries decreased and were less severe from 2018 to 2019 with infrequent intracranial injuries and a large percentage of fractures requiring operative repair.


  • 1 supplemental ZIP


Educating and Empowering Inner-City High School Students in Bleeding Control

Introduction: Unintentional bleeding is the leading cause of death in people 1-44 years of age in the United States. The Stop the Bleed (STB) campaign is a nationwide course that teaches the public to ensure their own safety, call 911, find the bleeding injury, and achieve temporary hemorrhage control by several techniques. Although the national campaign for the training course was inspired by active shooter events, the training can be applied to motor vehicle accidents and small-scale penetrating and gunshot wounds. Extending the audience to inner-city high school students in a violence-prone neighborhood has the potential to save lives if they are first on the scene.

Objectives: We hypothesized that students would have a greater degree of comfort, willingness, and preparedness to intervene in acute bleeding after taking the course.

Methods: This was a prospective, interventional pilot study in one inner-city high school in Brooklyn, New York. Students were given the option to participate in the STB course with pre- and postsurveys. We recruited 286 students from physical education or health education class to take a 50-minute bleeding control training course. Mean age was 15.7 years old. Students were divided into groups of 20-25 and taught by 2-3 emergency medicine, pediatric, or trauma surgery STB instructors. Each course included 2-3 skills stations for placing a tourniquet, wound packing, and pressure control.

Results: Prior to the course, only 43.8% of the students reported being somewhat likely or very likely to help an injured person who was bleeding. After the course, this increased to 80.8% of students even if no bleeding control kit was available. Additionally, there were significant improvements in self-rated comfort level from pre- to post-course 45.4% to 76.5%, and in self-rated preparedness from 25.1% to 83.8%. All three measures showed statistically significant improvement, P <.0001.

Conclusion: Teaching the STB course to high school students from a community with high levels of violence resulted in increased comfort level, willingness, and preparedness to act to control bleeding. If these opinions translate into action, students’ willingness to act could decrease pre-hospital blood loss and empower youth to perform life-saving interventions.

Training Leaders in Trauma Resuscitation: Teacher and Learner Perspectives on Ideal Methods

Introduction: Effective leadership improves patient care during medical and trauma resuscitations. While dedicated training programs can improve leadership in trauma resuscitation, we have a limited understanding of the optimal training methods. Our objective was to explore learners’ and teachers’ perceptions of effective methods of leadership training for trauma resuscitation.

Methods: We performed a qualitative exploration of learner and teacher perceptions of leadership training methods using a modified grounded theory approach. We interviewed 28 participants, including attending physicians, residents, fellows, and nurses who regularly participated in trauma team activations. We then analyzed transcripts in an iterative manner to form codes, identify themes, and explore relationships between themes.

Results: Based on interviewees’ perceptions, we identified seven methods used to train leadership in trauma resuscitation: reflection; feedback; hands-on learning; role modeling; simulation; group reflection; and didactic. We also identified three major themes in perceived best practices in training leaders in trauma resuscitation: formal vs informal curriculum; training techniques for novice vs more senior learner; and interprofessional training. Participants felt that informal training methods were the most important part of training, and that a significant part of a training program for leaders in trauma resuscitation should use informal methods. Learners who were earlier in their training preferred more supervision and guidance, while learners who were more advanced in their training preferred a greater degree of autonomy. Finally, participants believed leadership training for trauma resuscitation should be multidisciplinary and interprofessional.

Conclusion: We identified several important themes for training leaders in trauma resuscitation, including using a variety of different training methods, adapting the methods used based on the learner’s level of training, and incorporating opportunities for multidisciplinary and interprofessional training. More research is needed to determine the optimal balance of informal and formal training, how to standardize and increase consistency in informal training, and the optimal way to incorporate multidisciplinary and interprofessional learning into a leadership in trauma resuscitation training program.

  • 1 supplemental ZIP

Health Equity

Comorbid Patterns in the Homeless Population: A Theoretical Model to Enhance Patient Care

Introduction: From the perspective of social determinants, homelessness perpetuates poor health and creates barriers to effective chronic disease management, necessitating frequent use of emergency department (ED) services. In this study we developed a screening algorithm (checklist) from common comorbidities observed in the homeless population in the United States. The result was a theoretical screening tool (checklist) to aid healthcare workers in the ED, including residents, medical students, and other trainees, to provide more efficacious treatment and referrals for discharge.

Methods: In this retrospective cohort study we used the Nationwide Emergency Department Sample (NEDS) to investigate comorbidities and ED utilization patterns relating to 23 injury-related, psychiatric, and frequent chronic medical conditions in the US adult (≥18 years of age) homeless population. Cases were identified from the NEDS database for 2014–2017 using International Classification of Diseases, 9th and 10 revisions, and Clinical Classification Software diagnosis codes. We performed a two-step cluster analysis including pathologies with ≥10% prevalence in the sample to identify shared comorbidities. We then compared the clusters by sociodemographic and ED-related characteristics, including age, gender, primary payer, and patient disposition from the ED. Chi-square analysis was used to evaluate categorical variables (ie, gender, primary payer, patient disposition from the ED), and analysis of variance for continuous variables (age).

Results: The study included 1,715,777 weighted cases. The two-step cluster analysis identified nine groups denominated by most prevalent disease: 1) healthy; 2) mixed psychiatric; 3) major depressive disorder (MDD); 4) psychosis; 5) addiction; 6) essential hypertension; 7) chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD); 8) infectious disease; and (9) injury. The MDD, COPD, infectious disease, and Injury clusters demonstrated the highest prevalence of co-occurring disease, with the MDD cluster displaying the highest proportion of comorbidities. Although the addiction cluster existed independently, substance use was pervasive in all except the healthy cluster (prevalence 36-100%). We used the extracted screening algorithm to establish a screening tool (checklist) for ED healthcare workers, with physicians as the first point of contact for the initial use of the screening tool.

Conclusion: Healthcare workers in the ED, including residents, medical students, and other trainees, provide services for homeless ED users. Screening tools (checklists) can help coordinate care to improve treatment, referrals, and follow-up care to reduce hospital readmissions. The screening tool may expedite targeted interventions for homeless patients with commonly occurring patterns of disease.

  • 1 supplemental ZIP

Novel Use of Video Logs to Deliver Educational Interventions to Black Women for Disease Prevention

Introduction: Cisgender Black women comprise 67% of new human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) diagnoses among women in the South and are 11 times more likely to become HIV positive than White women in Texas. Optimal progress toward ending the HIV epidemic requires strategies that will interrupt transmission pathways in hotspot locations like Harris County, TX. Researchers are calling for public health interventions that can prevent HIV and sexually transmitted infections (STI) transmission; thus, we launched the first video log (vlog)-based, pilot HIV prevention intervention. 

Methods: In a prospective. randomized controlled trial of two educational intervention strategies delivered as vlogs eligible participants were randomized to either 1) an interactive gaming, education-based strategy, or 2) a storytelling, education-based strategy. Eligible participants were cisgender Black women being seen in the emergency department (ED) for a non-emergent condition who reported recent condomless heterosexual sex, were ages 18-45, and had social media access. Enrolled women completed a screening assessment, informed consent, randomization, and 10-item pre-and-post assessments with true/false statements before and after viewing a brief vlog on a tablet device to identify changes in knowledge before and after being educated on HIV/STI transmission. 

Results: Twenty-six women were randomized to the Taboo group, an interactive gaming, education-based strategy, (14 [53.8%]), or to storytelling, an education-based strategy using non-fictional and fictional case scenarios (12 [46.2%]). Taboo participants self-identified as African-American (12 [85.7%]), Black (1 [7.1%]) or “other” (1 [7.1%]), were younger (28.6% were ≥ 30 years), single (57.1%), reported a previous STI (8 [57.1%]), and were likely employed (57.2%). Storytelling participants self-identified as African-American (7 [58.3%]) or Black (5 [41.7%]), were older (49.9% were ≥ 30 years), in a relationship but not married (50%), and half were unemployed. Highest level of education and monthly income varied. The storytelling strategy increased knowledge in two areas and the Taboo strategy increased knowledge in one. No intervention effect was identified in three areas, and a significant decrease in knowledge (P < .0001) was discerned in eight areas for Taboo and six areas for storytelling.

Conclusion: Further research is necessary to confirm whether delivery of HIV prevention interventions with vlogs is a useful approach for HIV-vulnerable populations. Findings suggest that vlogs are a feasible approach to brief behavioral interventions during an ED visit.

Emergency Medical Services

Prehospital Translation of Chest Pain Tools (RESCUE Study): Completion Rate and Inter-rater Reliability

Introduction: Chest pain is a common reason for ambulance transport. Acute coronary syndrome (ACS) and pulmonary embolism (PE) risk assessments, such as history, electrocardiogram, age, risk factors (HEAR); Emergency Department Assessment of Chest Pain Score (EDACS); Pulmonary Embolism Rule-out Criteria (PERC); and revised Geneva score, are well validated for emergency department (ED) use but have not been translated to the prehospital setting. The objectives of this study were to evaluate the 1) prehospital completion rate and 2) inter-rater reliability of chest pain risk assessments.

Methods: We conducted a prospective observational cohort study in two emergency medical services (EMS) agencies (April 18, 2018 – January 2, 2019). Adults with acute, non-traumatic chest pain without ST-elevation myocardial infarction or unstable vital signs were accrued. Paramedics were trained to use the HEAR, EDACS, PERC, and revised Geneva score assessments. A subset of patients (a priori goal of N = 250) also had the four risk assessments completed by their treating clinicians in the ED, who were blinded to the EMS risk assessments. Outcomes were 1) risk assessments completion rate and 2) inter-rater reliability between EMS and ED assessments. An a priori goal for completion rate was set as >75%. We computed kappa with corresponding 95% confidence intervals (CI) for each risk assessment as a measure of inter-rater reliability. Acceptable agreement was defined a priori as kappa ≥ 0.60.

Results: During the study period, 837 patients with acute chest pain were accrued. The median age was 54 years, interquartile range 43-66, with 53% female and 51% Black. Completion rates for each risk assessment were above goal: the HEAR score was completed on 95.1% (796/837), EDACS on 92.0% (770/837), PERC on 89.4% (748/837), and revised Geneva score on 90.7% (759/837) of patients. We assessed agreement in a subgroup of 260 patients. The HEAR score had a kappa of 0.51 (95% CI, 0.41- 0.61); EDACS was 0.60 (95% CI, 0.49-0.72); PERC was 0.71 (95% CI, 0.61-0.81); and revised Geneva score was 0.51 (95% CI, 0.39-0.62).

Conclusion: The completion rate of risk assessments for ACS and PE was high for prehospital field personnel. The PERC and EDACS both demonstrated acceptable agreement between paramedics and clinicians in the ED, although assessments with better agreement are likely needed.

  • 3 supplemental ZIPs

Dispatcher Self-assessment and Attitude Toward Video Assistance as a New Tool in Simulated Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation

Introduction: Video-assisted cardiopulmonary resuscitation (V-CPR) describes an advanced telephone-assisted CPR (T-CPR), in which emergency medical service (EMS) dispatchers view a live video steam of the resuscitation. Dispatchers ’ general attitudes toward and self-assessment in V-CPR have not been previously investigated.

Material and Methods: We conducted this quantitative analysis along with a pilot study on V-CPR. After conducting V-CPR with laypersons in a simulation, EMS dispatchers were given questionnaires with 21 items concerning their personal attitude toward V-CPR and their self-assessment in providing instructions. The actual CPR performance achieved was recorded and compared to the dispatchers’ self-assessments.

Results: Dispatchers completed 49 questionnaires, and the data is presented descriptively. Over 80% strongly agreed that V-CPR was helpful in guiding and that their feedback improved CPR quality. Fifty-one percent agreed that video images supported them in making a diagnosis, while 44.9% disagreed. A vast majority (80-90% each) strongly agreed that V-CPR helped them recognize CPR issues such as compression point, compression rate, and deterioration. In contrast, data for improved compression depth and release were weaker. Thirty percent found V-CPR to be more stressful or exhausting than T-CPR. A majority stated they would prefer V-CPR as an addition to T-CPR in the future. There was a huge gap between dispatchers’ own view of CPR effort and measured CPR quality. 

Conclusion: Dispatchers generally embrace V-CPR and praise the abilities it provides.  Our results indicate that the use of V-CPR did not automatically result in an overall improvement in guideline-compliant CPR quality.


Utility of Temporal Bone Computed Tomography in Pediatric Emergency Medicine

Objective: Temporal bone computed tomography (CT) requires a relatively high radiation dose to produce high-resolution images required to define surgical anatomy. In the acute setting, the need for this detailed evaluation of temporal bone pathology may not be required for nonsurgical management and clinical decision-making. We performed a retrospective review of the clinical characteristics and subsequent management of children who underwent CT of the temporal bone with the goal of optimizing clinical decision-making and mitigating the risks of radiation exposure in children.

Methods: We included pediatric patients (<18 years of age) with International Classification of Diseases (9th or 10th revision) diagnoses consistent with otitis externa, otitis media, mastoiditis, head trauma, temporal bone fracture, and otalgia who were treated in the emergency department and underwent temporal bone CT from January 1, 2012–December 31, 2016. We collected data regarding the patients’ presenting symptoms, physical exam findings, indications for imaging, radiographic findings, disposition, and operative intervention within 30 days of imaging. Features of the suspected mastoiditis group were compared between operative and non-operative patients.

Results: Over the four-year study period there were 96 temporal bone CTs. Most studies (70%) were associated with a subsequent inpatient admission. Common indications for imaging included evaluation of acute mastoiditis (55%) or trauma (41%). Of the 53 patients with concern for mastoiditis, 27 (51%) required otologic surgery. Two patients in the trauma group required surgical intervention, both for facial nerve decompression. In patients with suspected mastoiditis, mental status changes (P = 0.02), auricular proptosis (P = 0.05), and fluctuance (P = 0.02) were significantly more prevalent in the operative group; however, no other findings were significantly associated with operative intervention.

Conclusion: Temporal bone CT is beneficial in guiding diagnosis and management of acute mastoiditis. We found that a majority of patients with suspected mastoiditis who underwent temporal bone CT ultimately required surgery or hospital admission. However, the potential for reduction in the use of CT still exists in this population. Fractures of the temporal bone typically do not require urgent operative intervention in the absence of complete facial nerve paralysis; thus, the utility of temporal bone CT in trauma evaluation may be limited.

Medical Education

Impact of COVID-19 on Emergency Medicine Residency Programs: A Cross-Sectional Study in New York State

Introduction: The 2019 novel coronavirus pandemic has caused significant disruptions in the clinical operations of hospitals as well as clinical education, training, and research at academic centers. New York State was among the first and largest epicenters of the pandemic, resulting in significant disruptions across its 29 emergency medicine (EM) residency programs. We conducted a cross-sectional observational study of EM residency programs in New York State to assess the impact of the pandemic on resident education and training programs.

Methods: We surveyed a cross-sectional sample of residency programs throughout New York State in June 2020, in the timeframe immediately after the state’s first “wave” of the pandemic. The survey was distributed to program leadership and elicited information on pandemic-prompted curricular modifications and other educational changes. The survey covered topics related to disruptions in medical education and sought details on solutions to educational issues encountered by programs.

Results: Of the 29 accredited EM residency programs in New York State, leadership from 22 (76%) responded. Of these participating programs, 11 (50%) experienced high pandemic impact on clinical services, 21 (95%) canceled their own trainees’ off-service rotations, 22 (100%) canceled or postponed visiting medical student rotations, 22 (100%) adopted virtual conference formats (most within the first week of the pandemic wave), and 11 (50%) stopped all prospective research (excluding COVID-19 research), while most programs continued retrospective research.

Conclusion: This study highlights the profound educational impact of the pandemic on residency programs in one of the hardest- and earliest-hit regions in the United States. Specifically, it highlights the ubiquity of virtual conferencing, the significant impact on research, and the concerns about canceled rotations and missed training opportunities for residents, as well as prehospital and non-physician practitioner trainees. This data should be used to prompt discussion regarding the necessity of alternate educational modalities for pandemic times and the sequelae of implementing these plans.

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Burnout and Post-traumatic Stress Disorder Symptoms Among Emergency Medicine Resident Physicians During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Introduction: Emergency medicine is characterized by high volume decision-making while under multiple stressors. With the arrival of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) virus in early 2020, physicians across the world were met with a surge of critically ill patients. Emergency physicians (EP) are prone to developing burnout and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), due to experiencing emotional trauma as well as the cumulative stress of practice. Thus, calls have been made for attempts to prevent physician PTSD during this current pandemic. 

Methods: From July 2019–January 2020, emergency medicine (EM) resident physicians at a large, academic healthcare system were surveyed for symptoms of burnout using the Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI). In late April and early May 2020, during the outbreak surge of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the Northeast USA, these same residents and the whole EM residency at the institution were again surveyed for symptoms of burnout as well as post-traumatic stress using the PTSD Checklist for Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (PCL-5). A final survey was administered to the EM residents after the COVID-19 surge had largely subsided in June 2020. 

Results: Twenty-two residents participated in the pre-pandemic study and completed the MBI. Twelve (55%) completed the two follow-up MBI surveys. In the larger EM residency cohort, 31/60 residents completed the MBI and PCL-5 survey during the pandemic peak and 30/60 (50%) completed the follow-up surveys. There were no significant differences in the three MBI burnout category measures of emotional exhaustion (P = 0.49), depersonalization (P = 0.13), and personal accomplishment (P = 0.70) pre-, during, and post-COVID. Of 31 participants, 11 (35%) scored greater than 31 on the PCL-5. Two residents had scores between 21-30, interpreted as “at risk.” At greater than one month follow-up, 2/30 continued to meet criteria for a preliminary PTSD diagnosis, and five were “at risk.”

Conclusion: A significant proportion of residents (35%) experienced post-traumatic symptoms acutely during the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, potentially indicating a high prevalence of acute stress disorder in this population and increased risk of developing PTSD. However, there was no significant difference in burnout levels in this cohort before, during, or after the initial COVID-19 surge. Early screening for physicians at risk and referral for assessment and treatment may be important to mitigate pandemic-related PTSD.

Critical Care

Development and Validation of a Novel Triage Tool for Predicting Cardiac Arrest in the Emergency Department

Background: Early recognition and prevention of in-hospital cardiac arrest (IHCA) have played an increasingly important role in the chain of survival. However, clinical tools for predicting IHCA are scarce, particularly in the emergency department (ED). We sought to estimate the incidence of ED-based IHCA and to develop and validate a novel triage tool, the Emergency Department In-hospital Cardiac Arrest Score (EDICAS), for predicting ED-based IHCA.

Methods: In this retrospective cohort study we used electronic clinical warehouse data from a tertiary medical center with approximately 100,000 ED visits per year. We extracted data from 733,398 ED visits over a seven-year period. We selected one ED visit per person and excluded out-of-hospital cardiac arrest or children. Patient demographics and computerized triage information were included as potential predictors.

Results: A total of 325,502 adult ED patients were included. Of these patients, 623 (0.2%) developed ED-based IHCA. The EDICAS, which includes age and arrival mode and categorizes vital signs with simple cut-offs, showed excellent discrimination (area under the receiver operating characteristic [AUROC] curve, 0.87) and maintained its discriminatory ability (AUROC, 0.86) in cross-validation. Previously developed early warning scores showed lower AUROC (0.77 for the Modified Early Warning Score and 0.83 for the National Early Warning Score) when applied to our ED population.

Conclusion: In-hospital cardiac arrest in the ED is relatively uncommon. We developed and internally validated a novel tool for predicting imminent IHCA in the ED. Future studies are warranted to determine whether this tool could gain lead time to identify high-risk patients and potentially reduce ED-based IHCA.

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Women's Health

Symptoms and Physical Exam Findings in Sexual Assault-related Non-fatal Strangulation

Objective: Our goal was to investigate the frequency of specific signs and symptoms following sexual assault-related non-fatal strangulation (NFS) and to explore the interaction between assault characteristics and physical exam findings.

Methods: This retrospective observational study included all adults (>18 years) reporting strangulation during sexual assault who presented for a forensic sexual assault exam at one of six urban community hospitals contracted with a single forensic nurse agency. Demographic information, narrative elements, and physical exam findings were abstracted from standardized sexual assault reporting forms. We analyzed data with descriptive statistics and compared specific variables using chi-square testing.

Results: Of the 580 subjects 99% were female, with a median age of 27 (interquartile range 22-35 years). The most common injury location was the neck (57.2%), followed by the mouth (29.1%). We found that 19.1% of the victims had no injuries evident on physical exam and 29.8% reported a loss of consciousness. Eye/eyelid and neck findings did not significantly differ between subjects who reported blows to the head in addition to strangulation and those who did not. The time that elapsed between assault and exam did not significantly correlate with the presence of most head and torso physical exam findings, except for nose injury (P = 0.02).

Conclusion: Slightly more than half of the victims who reported strangulation during sexual assault had visible neck injuries. Other non-anogenital findings were present even less frequently, with a substantial portion of victims having no injuries documented on physical exam. The perpetrators’ use of blows to the head may account for many of the non-anogenital injuries observed, but not for the neck and eye/eyelid injuries, which may be more specific to non-fatal strangulation. More research is needed to definitively establish strangulation as the causal mechanism for these findings, and to determine whether any long-term neurologic or vascular sequelae resulted from the observed injuries.

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Global Health

Chronic Health Crises and Emergency Medicine in War-torn Yemen, Exacerbated by the COVID-19 Pandemic

Introduction: Much of Yemen’s infrastructure and healthcare system has been destroyed by the ongoing civil war that began in late 2014. This has created a dire situation that has led to food insecurity, water shortages, uncontrolled outbreaks of infectious disease and further failings within the healthcare system. This has greatly impacted the practice of emergency medicine (EM), and is now compounded by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) global pandemic.

Methods: We conducted a systematic review of the current state of emergency and disaster medicine in Yemen, followed by unstructured qualitative interviews with EM workers, performed by either direct discussion or via phone calls, to capture their lived experience, observations on and perceptions of the challenges facing EM in Yemen. We summarize and present our findings in this paper.

Results: Emergency medical services (EMS) in Yemen are severely depleted. Across the country as a whole, there are only 10 healthcare workers for every 10,000 people – less than half of the WHO benchmark for basic health coverage – and only five physicians, less than one third the world average; 18% of the country’s 333 districts have no qualified physicians at all. Ambulances and basic medical equipment are in short supply. As a result of the ongoing war, only 50% of the 5056 pre-war hospitals and health facilities are functional. In June 2020, Yemen recorded a 27% mortality rate of Yemenis who were confirmed to have COVID-19, more than five times the global average and among the highest in the world at that time.

Conclusion: In recent years, serious efforts to develop an advanced EM presence in Yemen and cultivate improvements in EMS have been stymied or have failed outright due to the ongoing challenges. Yemen’s chronically under-resourced healthcare sector is ill-equipped to deal with the additional strain of COVID-19.