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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Volume 23, Issue 3, 2022

Endemic Infections

Emergency Department Patients’ COVID-19 Vaccination Status and Self-Reported Barriers

Introduction: This study surveyed adult emergency department (ED) patients and the adult companions of pediatric patients to determine whether rates of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccination were comparable to that of the general population in the region. This study also sought to identify self-reported barriers to vaccination and possible areas for intervention.

Methods: A survey was administered to 607 adult ED patients or the adult companions of pediatric patients from three different regional hospitals to assess their COVID-19 vaccination status, COVID-19 vaccine barriers, and demographic information.

Results: Of the 2,267 adult patients/companions considered for enrollment, we approached 730 individuals about participating in the study. Of the individuals approached, 607 (41% male; mean age 47.0+17.4 years) consented to participate. A total of 403 (66.4%) participants had received at least one vaccine dose as compared to 70% of the adult population in the county where the three hospitals were located. Of those, 382 (94.8%) were fully vaccinated and among the individuals who were partially vaccinated the majority (17 of 21) had an appointment for their second dose. Of those approached, 204 (33.6%) were not vaccinated, with 66 (10.9% of the total population) expressing an interest in becoming vaccinated while the remaining 138 did not want to be vaccinated. Of those who wanted to be vaccinated 32% were waiting for more safety data, and of those who did not want to be vaccinated 26% were concerned about side effects and risks and 28% were waiting for more safety data.

Conclusion: Adult ED patients and adult companions of pediatric ED patients were vaccinated at a slightly lower rate than the general population in our county. A small but significant proportion of those who were unvaccinated expressed the desire to be vaccinated, indicating that the ED may be a suitable location to introduce a COVID-19 vaccination program.


Bamlanivimab Reduces ED Returns and Hospitalizations and May Reduce COVID-19 Burden on Low-resource Border Hospitals

Introduction: To evaluate the effectiveness of bamlanivimab at reducing return emergency department (ED) visits in primarily Latinx/Hispanic patients with mild or moderate coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Secondary aims were to evaluate the prevention of subsequent hospitalizations and deaths in a resource-limited United States (U.S.)-Mexico border hospital.

Methods: We conducted a retrospective, open-label interventional study on 270 eligible adult patients diagnosed with mild-moderate severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection who met criteria for receiving bamlanivimab from November 1, 2020 to January 31, 2021. The main outcomes of 14-day return visits to the ED and hospitalizations due to COVID-19 were compared between two groups – those who received bamlanivimab (exposed group) and those who did not receive bamlanivimab (unexposed group). Outcomes were analyzed through chi-square tests followed by multivariate regression modeling to adjust for patient demographics, characteristics, and comorbidities.

Results: There were 136 COVID-19 patients who received bamlanivimab in the ED prior to discharge and an unexposed group of 134 COVID-19 patients who were evaluated and discharged from the ED without receiving bamlanivimab. Overall, mean age was 61.7 (S.D. +/-13.9) years, mean body mass index (BMI) 31.0 (S.D. +/-6.6) kg/m2 , 91.5% identified as Latinx/Hispanic, 51.9% male, and 80.7% reported at least one comorbidity. Most commonly reported comorbidities were obesity (22.6%), hypertension (59.6%), and diabetes (41.1%). The bamlanivimab group had a 22.8% (mean estimate = 0.7717, 95% CI [0.6482, 0.8611]) risk reduction or 84.4% (0.3030, 95% CI = 0.166, 0.554, p=.0001) absolute reduction of ED return visits within 14 days compared to controls after adjusting for chronic kidney disease. The bamlanivimab group had 19.0% (mean estimate=0.8097, 95% CI [0.6451, 0.9087]) risk reduction or 96.2% (0.235, 95% CI 0.100, 0.550, p=0.0008) absolute reduction of subsequent hospitalizations compared to unexposed patients after adjusting for diabetes status.

Conclusion: Bamlanivimab infusions for high-risk COVID-19 patients in the ED substantially reduced the risk of return visits to the ED and hospitalizations in our primarily Latinx/Hispanic population. Monoclonal antibody infusions may help reduce hospital utilization during COVID-19 surges at U.S.- Mexico border hospitals. [

  • 2 supplemental ZIPs

Comparing Hepatitis C Virus Screening in Clinics Versus the Emergency Department

Introduction: New evidence suggests that emergency department (ED)-based infectious diseases screening programs have utility. We aimed to compare clinic-based and ED-based hepatitis C virus (HCV) screening programs within a single health system, to identify key differences in HCV antibody (Ab) positivity and chronic HCV, as well as population demographics.

Methods: In the clinic-based program, adults in the birth cohort (born 1945-1965) were screened for HCV. In the ED-based program, non-targeted HCV screening of all adults was conducted. We included patients screened between June 2019–June 2020. Patients were screened for anti-HCV Ab, and positive results were followed by HCV viral load (VL) testing. Our primary outcomes were seroprevalence of HCV Ab and HCV VL.

Results: There were 1,296 and 12,778 patients screened for HCV in the clinics and the ED, respectively. In the clinic setting, 13 patients (1%) screened positive for HCV Ab and nine (69%) completed VL testing, which was positive in one patient (11%). In the ED, 1,053 patients (8%) screened positive for HCV Ab and 847 (80%) underwent reflex VL testing, which was positive in 381 patients (45%). In an ED birth cohort sub-analysis, Hepatitis C virus Ab seroprevalence was 15% (675/4521).

Conclusion: In this study of patients in a single healthcare system, ED-based HCV screening was higher yield than clinic-based screening.

Simulation-Based Mastery Learning Improves the Performance of Donning and Doffing of Personal Protective Equipment by Medical Students

Introduction: Medical students lack adequate training on how to correctly don and doff personal protective equipment (PPE). Simulation-based mastery learning (SBML) is an effective technique for procedural education. The aim of this study was to determine whether SBML improves proper PPE donning and doffing by medical students.

Methods: This was a prospective, pre-test/post-test study of 155 medical students on demonstration of correct PPE use before and after a SBML intervention. Subjects completed standard hospital training by viewing a US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention training video on proper PPE use prior to the intervention. They then participated in a SBML training session that included baseline testing, deliberate practice with expert feedback, and post-testing until mastery was achieved. Students were assessed using a previously developed 21-item checklist on donning and doffing PPE with a minimum passing standard (MPS) of 21/21 items. We analyzed differences between pre-test and post-test scores using paired t-tests. Students at preclinical and clinical levels of training were compared with an independent t-test. 

Results: Two participants (1.3%) met the MPS on pre-test. Of the remaining 153 subjects who participated in the intervention, 151 (98.7%) reached mastery. Comparison of mean scores from pre-test to final post-test significantly improved from an average raw score of 12.55/21 (standard deviation [SD] = 2.86), to 21/21(SD = 0), t(150) = 36.3, P <0.001. There was no difference between pre-test scores of pre-clinical and clinical students. 

Conclusion: Simulation-based mastery learning improves medical student performance in PPE donning and doffing in a simulated environment. This approach standardizes PPE training for students in advance of clinical experiences.


Computed Tomography of the Chest in Younger Pediatric Patients with Thoracic Blunt Trauma Rarely Changes Surgical Management

Introduction: Thoracic trauma is the second leading cause of death after traumatic brain injury in children presenting with blunt chest trauma, which represents 80% of thoracic trauma in children. We hypothesized that older children undergo more clinical and surgical changes in management than younger children screened for intrathoracic injury at a single, urban, pediatric Level I trauma center. 

Methods: In this retrospective observational study, we determined the frequencies and types of lesions diagnosed only by chest computed tomography (CCT) and resulting changes of clinical and surgical management among different age groups in a pediatric cohort examined for blunt trauma with chest radiograph and CCT. We used logistic regression to quantify variations in CCT diagnoses and changes in clinical and surgical management across age groups. For each age category, we determined the odds ratio for diagnosis made only on CCT and subsequent changes in all clinical management and, specifically, surgical management. We performed the test of trend to determine the relationship across age with changes in management resulting from additional diagnoses made by CCT. 

Results: We analyzed data on 1,235 patients screened for intrathoracic injury. We found the following overall clinical management and surgical management changes, respectively, per age group: 0-2 years, 5/128 (3.9) and 0/128 (0.0); 3-6 years, 11/212 (5.2) and 1/212 (0.5); 7-10 years, 16/175 (9.1) and 2/175 (1.1); 11-13 years, 17/188 (9.0) and 3/188 (1.6); 14-17 years, 58/532 (10.9) and 25/532 (4.7). There were no observed surgical management changes in the 0-2 age group and, thus, no estimated odds ratio could be calculated. The adjusted odds ratios for the occurrence of surgical change in management (14-17 age group as reference) was 0.1 (0.0-0.9) for 3-6 years, 0.3 (0.1-1.3) for 7-10 years, and 0.3 (0.1- 1.1) for 11-13 years. The trend of odds ratios across ages showed that with every subsequent year of life there was a 10% increase in management change and a 30% increase in surgical management change. 

Conclusion: Chest computed tomography plays a limited role in younger children and seldom significantly changes management albeit making additional diagnoses.

Trauma-informed Care Interventions in Emergency Medicine: A Systematic Review

Introduction: Trauma exposure is a highly prevalent experience for patients and clinicians in emergency medicine (EM). Trauma-informed care (TIC) is an effective framework to mitigate the negative health impacts of trauma. This systematic review synthesizes the range of TIC interventions in EM, with a focus on patient and clinician outcomes, and identifies gaps in the current research on implementing TIC. 

Methods: The study was registered with PROSPERO (CRD42020205182). We systematically searched peer-reviewed journals and abstracts in the PubMed, EMBASE (Elsevier), PsycINFO (EBSCO), Social Services Abstract (ProQuest), and CINAHL (EBSCO) databases from 1990 onward on August 12, 2020. We analyzed studies describing explicit TIC interventions in the ED setting using inductive qualitative content analysis to identify recurrent themes and identify unique trauma-informed interventions in each study. Studies not explicitly citing TIC were excluded. Studies were assessed for bias using the Newcastle-Ottawa criteria and Critical Appraisal Skills Programme (CASP) Checklist. 

Results: We identified a total of 1,372 studies and abstracts, with 10 meeting inclusion criteria for final analysis. Themes within TIC interventions that emerged included educational interventions, collaborations with allied health professionals and community organizations, and patient and clinician safety interventions. Educational interventions included lectures, online modules, and standardized patient exercises. Collaborations with community organizations focused on addressing social determinants of health. All interventions suggested a positive impact from TIC on either clinicians or patients, but outcomes data remain limited. 

Conclusion: Trauma-informed care is a nascent field in EM with limited operationalization of TIC approaches. Future studies with patient and clinician outcomes analyzing universal TIC precautions and systems-level interventions are needed.

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Medical Education

Holistic Review, Mitigating Bias, and Other Strategies in Residency Recruitment for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: An Evidence-based Guide to Best Practices from the Council of Residency Directors in Emergency Medicine

Advancement of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in emergency medicine can only occur with intentional recruitment of residency applicants underrepresented in medicine (UIM). Shared experiences from undergraduate and graduate medical education highlight considerations and practices that can contribute to improved diversity in the resident pool, such as holistic review and mitigating bias in the recruitment process. This review, written by members of the Council of Residency Directors in Emergency Medicine (CORD) Best Practices Subcommittee, offers best practice recommendations for the recruitment of UIM applicants. Recommendations address pre-interview readiness, interview approach, and post-interview strategies that residency leadership may use to implement holistic review and mitigate bias for recruitment of a diverse class.

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Critical Care

Discrepancy Between Invasive and Noninvasive Blood Pressure Measurements in Patients with Sepsis by Vasopressor Status

Introduction: Blood pressure (BP) monitoring is an essential component of sepsis management. The Surviving Sepsis Guidelines recommend invasive arterial BP (IABP) monitoring, although the benefits over non-invasive BP (NIBP) monitoring are unclear. This study investigated discrepancies between IABP and NIBP measurement and their clinical significance. We hypothesized that IABP monitoring would be associated with changes in management among patients with sepsis requiring vasopressors.

Methods: We performed a retrospective study of adult patients admitted to the critical care resuscitation unit at a quaternary medical center between January 1–December 31, 2017. We included patients with sepsis conditions AND IABP monitoring. We defined a clinically significant BP discrepancy (BPD) between NIBP and IABP measurement as a difference of > 10 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) AND change of BP management to maintain mean arterial pressure ≥ 65 mm Hg.

Results: We analyzed 127 patients. Among 57 (45%) requiring vasopressors, 9 (16%) patients had a clinically significant BPD vs 2 patients (3% odds ratio [OR] 6.4; 95% CI: 1.2-30; P = 0.01) without vasopressors. In multivariable logistic regression, higher Sequential Organ Failure Assessment (SOFA) score (OR 1.33; 95% CI: 1.02-1.73; P = 0.03) and serum lactate (OR 1.27; 95% CI: 1.003-1.60, P = 0.04) were associated with increased likelihood of clinically significant BPD. There were no complications (95% CI: 0-0.02) from arterial catheter insertions.

Conclusion: Among our population of septic patients, the use of vasopressors was associated with increased odds of a clinically significant blood pressure discrepancy between IABP and NIBP measurement. Additionally, higher SOFA score and serum lactate were associated with higher likelihood of clinically significant blood pressure discrepancy. Further studies are needed to confirm our observations and investigate the benefits vs the risk of harm of IABP monitoring in patients with sepsis.


  • 2 supplemental ZIPs

Emergency Department Access

Effect of an Emergency Department Closure on Homeless Patients and Adjacent Hospitals

Introduction: Homeless and housed patients differ on several emergency department (ED) metrics (emergency medical services [EMS] use, chief complaints, admission rates, etc.). On January 1, 2018, Memorial Hospital (MH), a safety-net hospital in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, closed. We studied the impact of this closure by analyzing homeless patient utilization of the two closest EDs before and after MH closed.

Methods: A retrospective chart review compared the ED records of The Miriam Hospital (TMH), (1.8 miles from MH) and Rhode Island Hospital (RIH), (4.3 miles from MH). We analyzed visits between January 1, 2017–December 30, 2018. (MH closed on 1/1/2018). Patients were identified as homeless if their address listed was either “homeless” or a shelter/ homeless service provider. All other patients were assumed to be housed. We removed from the analysis visits without an address listed or visits missing other key study variables (1.6% of the total). 

Results: A total of 113,925 unique patients visited the RIH and TMH EDs in 2017, as well as 117,167 in 2018. Homeless patients accounted for 1.18% of patients seen in 2017 and 1.32% in 2018. Between 2017 and 2018, this represents an increase of individual homeless patients of 15.46% (1553-1345), while the number of unique housed patients increased by 2.69% (115,614-112,580). The closer hospital, TMH, saw a 43.72% increase in homeless visits, while RIH saw an 8% increase. Homeless patients were discharged significantly more often than housed patients (74% vs 65%) and had significantly longer time to admission (466.0 vs 304.0 minutes) and discharge (397.9 vs 263.7 minutes) compared to housed patients. Homeless patients presented with suicidality (8.61% of visits) and alcohol-related concerns (29.88% of visits) significantly more than housed patients (1.43% and 2.94%, respectively).

Conclusion: When a local ED closes, other EDs are impacted. We found visits made by homeless patients increased more than those made by housed patients and skewed significantly toward the closer hospital. We also found that homeless patients spend significantly more time in the ED and presented with behavioral health complaints more frequently. This impact of hospital closure on patterns of ED utilization by homeless patients has implications for ED management and homeless services both in the ED and the community.


Falls in Older Adults Requiring Emergency Services: Mortality, Use of Healthcare Resources, and Prognostication to One Year

Introduction: Older adults who fall commonly require emergency services, but research on long-term outcomes and prognostication is sparse. We evaluated older adults transported by ambulance after a fall in the Northwestern United States (US) and longitudinally tracked subsequent healthcare use, transitions to skilled nursing, hospice, mortality, and prognostication to one year. Methods: This was a planned secondary analysis of a cohort study of community-dwelling older adults enrolled from January 1–December 31, 2011, with follow-up through December 31, 2012. We included all adults ≥ 65 years transported by 44 emergency medical services agencies in seven Northwest counties to 51 hospitals after a fall. We matched Medicare claims, state inpatient data, state trauma registry data, and death records. Outcomes included mortality, healthcare use, and new claims for skilled nursing and hospice to one year. Results: There were 3,159 older adults, with 147 (4.7%) deaths within 30 days and 665 (21.1%) deaths within one year. There was an initial spike in inpatient days, followed by increases in skilled nursing and hospice. We identified four predictors of mortality: respiratory diagnosis; serious brain injury; baseline disability; and Charlson Comorbidity Index ≥ 2. Having any of these predictors was 96.6% sensitive (95% confidence interval [CI]: 95.7, 97.5%) and 21.4% specific (95% CI: 19.9,  22.9%) for 30-day mortality, and 91.6% sensitive (95% CI: 89.5, 93.8%). and 23.8% specific (95% CI: 22.1, 25.5%) for one-year mortality.Conclusion: Community-dwelling older adults requiring ambulance transport after a fall have marked increases in healthcare use, institutionalized living, and mortality over the subsequent year. Most deaths occur following the acute care period and can be identified with high sensitivity at the time of the index visit, yet with low specificity. [West J Emerg Med. 2022;22(3)375–385.]

  • 1 supplemental ZIP

Behavioral Health

Attitudes on Methadone Utilization in the Emergency Department: A Physician Cross-sectional Study

Introduction: Like buprenorphine, methadone is a life-saving medication that can be initiated in the emergency department (ED) to treat patients with an opioid use disorder (OUD). The purpose of this study was to better understand the attitudes of emergency physicians (EP) on offering methadone compared to buprenorphine to patients with OUD in the ED. 

Methods: We distributed a perception survey to emergency physicians through a national professional network. 

Results: In this study, the response rate was 18.4% (N = 141), with nearly 70% of the EPs having ordered either buprenorphine or methadone. 75% of EPs strongly or somewhat agreed that buprenorphine was an appropriate treatment for opioid withdrawal and craving, while only 28% agreed that methadone was an appropriate treatment. The perceived barriers to using buprenorphine and methadone in the ED were similar. 

Conclusion: It is essential to create interventions for EPs to overcome stigma and barriers to methadone initiation in the ED for patients with opioid use disorder. Doing so will offer additional opportunities and pathways for initiation of multiple effective medications for OUD in the ED. Subsequent outpatient treatment linkage may lead to improved treatment retention and decreased morbidity and mortality from ongoing use.

  • 1 supplemental ZIP

Emergency Medical Services

Factors Influencing Use of Personal Protective Equipment Among Emergency Medical Services Responders During the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Retrospective Chart Review

Introduction: The use of personal protective equipment (PPE) is a salient component of reducing occupational risk in many fields. Emergency medical services (EMS) personnel use PPE to reduce risk of exposure and defend against various pathogens they come in contact with while providing patient care. Currently, the understanding of factors that predict the use of PPE by an EMS responder during a pandemic is limited. In this study our objective was to identify factors that influenced PPE use by EMS responders during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, which may guide future planning for responders in similar austere or personal risk situations. 

Methods: We conducted a retrospective chart review among all EMS encounters across an EMS agency affiliated with a large New York health system from March 16–June 30, 2020. All adult, emergency encounters with available prehospital record data were analyzed. We assessed patient- and EMS encounter-level data as possible factors that influence PPE utilization. The use of PPE was defined and guided by the literature as being either full or partial PPE, or “not documented.” We used multinomial logistic regression to identify factors that influence PPE use among EMS responders.

Results: We identified 28,693 eligible EMS encounters during the study period; 54.2% of patients were male, the median patient age was 58 years, and 66.9% of patients had at least one chronic medical condition. The use of PPE was documented in 92.8% of encounters, with full PPE used in 17.8% of these encounters. Full PPE utilization, relative to partial, was most strongly influenced by dispatch codes indicative of “breathing problems” (odds ratio [OR] 4.89; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 4.40, 5.46) and “cardiac/respiratory arrest” (OR 3.82; 95% CI: 2.99, 4.88), in addition to a patient’s positive screening for COVID-19 on 9-1-1 dispatch (OR 3.97; 95% CI: 3.66, 4.32).

Conclusion: Emergency medical services responders more frequently used full PPE for calls with dispatch codes indicative of respiratory distress or cardiac arrest. Understanding factors that influence PPE use among EMS personnel, particularly during times of public health emergencies, is essential to mitigate exposure and ensure the safety of frontline responders.

  • 1 supplemental ZIP

Women's Health

Vaginal Swabs Are Non-inferior to Endocervical Swabs for Sexually Transmitted Infection testing in the Emergency Department

Study Objective: Emergency department (ED) testing for sexually transmitted infections (STI) in women is typically performed with a pelvic examination and an endocervical swab. However, vaginal swabs are effective for STI testing and the preferred specimen type according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The utility of using vaginal swabs in the ED for STI screening has not been thoroughly investigated. Our objective was to assess detection rates for two bacterial STIs before and after implementing a screening protocol using vaginal swabs.

Methods: We conducted a quasi-experimental, pre-post study using standardized data from electronic health records across nine metropolitan Detroit hospital EDs. Patients included women who were tested for Chlamydia trachomatis or Neisseria gonorrhoeae in the ED between April 2018– December 2019. Pre-implementation tests from April 2018-February 2019 were done using endo-cervical swabs, and post-implementation tests from February 2019-December 2019 were done with vaginal swabs. We used non-inferiority testing for proportion with a non-inferiority margin of one percentage point absolute difference in detection rates of STI.

Results: The study included 22,291 encounters with 11,732 in the pre-implementation and 10,559 in the post-implementation phases. The C. trachomatis detection rates were 7.5% pre-implementation and 7.6% post-implementation (between-group difference, 0.1 percentage points; 95% confidence interval [CI]: -0.7, 0.4; p<.01 for non-inferiority). The N. gonorrhoeae detection rates were 3.1% pre-implementation and 3.6% post-implementation (between-group difference, 0.5 percentage points; 95% CI: -0.8, 0.04; p<.01 for non-inferiority).

Conclusion: Using vaginal swabs for STI testing in the ED may be a non-inferior alternative to using endocervical swabs

Ethical and Legal Issues

Charting Practices to Protect Against Malpractice: Case Reviews and Learning Points

Introduction: Medical documentation issues play a role in 10-20% of medical malpractice lawsuits. Inaccurate, incomplete, or generic records undermine a physician’s defense and make a plaintiff’s lawyer more likely to take on a case. Despite the frequency of documentation errors in malpractice suits, physicians receive very little education or feedback on their documentation. Our objective in this case series was to evaluate malpractice cases related to documentation to help improve physicians’ documentation and minimize their liability risks.

Methods: We used Thomson Reuters Westlaw legal database to identify malpractice cases related to documentation. Common issues related to documentation and themes in the cases were identified and highlighted.

Results: We classified cases into the following categories: incomplete documentation; inaccurate text; transcription errors; judgmental language; and alteration of documentation. By evaluating real cases, physicians can better understand common errors of other practitioners and avoid these in their own practice.

Conclusion: Emergency physicians can reduce their liability risks by relying less on forms and templates and making a habit of documenting discussions with the patients, recording others’ involvement in patient care (chaperones, consultants, trainees, etc.), addressing others’ notes (triage staff, nurses, residents, etc.), paying attention to accuracy of transcribed or dictated information, avoiding judgmental language, and refraining from altering patient charts.


Visits to the Pediatric Emergency Department for Eye Conditions Before and During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Introduction: The use of the emergency department (ED) has been increasing, and many visits occur for non-urgent conditions. A similar trend was found among adult visits to the ED for ocular conditions. In this study we analyzed the impact of sociodemographic factors, presentation timing, and the COVID-19 pandemic on pediatric ED (PED) encounters for ophthalmologic conditions. It is important to identify the multifold factors associated with overutilization of the ED for non-urgent conditions. Caring for these patients in an outpatient clinical setting is safe and effective and could decrease ED crowding; it would also prevent delays in the care of other patients with more urgent medical problems and lower healthcare costs.

Methods: We retrospectively reviewed electronic health records of PED ocular-related encounters at two children’s hospitals before (January 2014-May 2018) and during the COVID-19 pandemic (March 2020-February 2021). Encounters were categorized based on the International Classification of Diseases codes into “emergent,” “urgent,” and non-urgent” groups. We analyzed associations between sociodemographic factors and degrees of visit urgency. We also compared visit frequencies, degrees of urgency, and diagnoses between pre-pandemic and pandemic data. 

Results: Pre-pandemic ocular-related PED encounters averaged 1,738 per year. There were highly significant sociodemographic associations with degrees of urgency in PED utilization. During the 12-month pandemic timeframe, encounter frequency contracted to 183. Emergent visits decreased from 21% to 11%, while the proportions of urgent and non-urgent encounters were mostly unchanged. The most common pre-pandemic urgent diagnosis was corneal abrasion (50%), while visual disturbance was most common during the pandemic (92%). During both time periods, eye trauma was the most frequent emergent encounter and conjunctivitis was the most common non-urgent encounter. 

Conclusion: Sociodemographic factors may be associated with different types of PED utilization for ocular conditions. Unnecessary visits constitute major inefficiency from a healthcare-systems standpoint. The marked decrease in PED utilization and differing proportions of ocular conditions encountered during the pandemic may reflect a decrease in incidence of many of those conditions by social distancing; these changes may also reflect altered parental decisions about seeking care.

Research Publishing

COVID-19 Literature Published in Emergency Medicine Journals in 2020

Introduction: Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)-related articles published in emergency medicine (EM) journals provide insight into the responses of EM researchers and journal editors globally to a newly emerging infectious disease. We studied trends in the number, types, and national origins of COVID-19 literature published in EM journals to investigate knowledge transmission via scientific publication during the pandemic.

Methods: This was a retrospective observational study. The EM journal list was adopted from the 2019 Journal Citation Reports. We retrieved data from the SCOPUS database, limited to publication year 2020, and identified COVID-19 publications when the title, abstract, or keywords included “COVID” or “SARS.” The outcome measurements were as follows: 1) monthly COVID-19 publication numbers in EM journals; 2) the percentage of COVID-19 published literature in terms of total journal publications; 3) the countries, affiliations, and authors of COVID-19-related publications; 4) the differences in the proportions of “Articles” and “Letters” between COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 publications; and 5) the total, average, and maximum number of times cited for different types of COVID-19-related scientific literature. 

Results: We retrieved a total of 7,457 published papers from 31 EM journals. There were 765 (10.26%) COVID-19-related publications in 27 journals contributed by 67 countries; the first authors were from 49 countries. The monthly COVID-19 publication numbers in the categories of “Letters” and “Articles” were nearly equal before July 2020. The yearly proportions of COVID-19-focused articles and letters were 48.8% and 29.9%, respectively, while non-COVID-19 proportions were 72.1% and 9.8%, respectively. The chi-squared statistic of the differences between the numbers of articles and letters in COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 published research was significant (P < .001).

Conclusion: An analysis of COVID-19 publications in EM journals indicated that, in the early stage of a newly emerging infectious disease, the number of letters and articles increased simultaneously. The proportion of COVID-19-focused letters was higher than those published on other topics. The “Article” and “Review” category of COVID-19 research was cited more times than that of “Letters.”

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Adoption of High-sensitivity Troponin Testing and Emergency Physician Ordering Behavior

Introduction: Emergency departments (ED) are rapidly replacing conventional troponin assays with high-sensitivity troponin tests. We sought to evaluate emergency physician utilization of troponin tests before and after high-sensitivity troponin introduction in our ED.

Methods: We retrospectively examined 9,477 ED encounters, identifying the percentage in which physicians ordered a serum troponin both before and after our institution adopted a high-sensitivity troponin test.

Results: After introduction of high-sensitivity troponin testing, the percentage of ED encountersin which physicians ordered troponin studies decreased (28.3% before vs 22% after; P <.001),with the drop most pronounced in admitted patients (decrease of 10.9% [95% confidenceinterval [CI]: 7.3%- 14.5%] in admitted patients vs decrease of 3.6% [95% CI: 1.7%- 5.4%]in discharged patients; P<.001)

Conclusion: Introduction of high-sensitivity troponin testing was associated with a decrease in troponin ordering. While the reasons for this are unclear, it is possible that physicians became more selective in their ordering behavior because of the lower specificity of high-sensitivity troponin.

  • 1 supplemental ZIP