March 6, 2024

Diagnosis delays more likely for EDs with fewer pediatric patients

Editor's Note

Emergency departments (EDs) that see more young patients tend to deliver more timely diagnoses than those that see fewer young patients, where diagnosis is more likely to be delayed. The findings appeared February 12 study in JAMA pediatrics.

The cohort study examined data from January 2015 to December 2019 for over 58,000 patients under the age of 18 treated at 954 different EDs across eight U.S. states. All of the patients had one of 23 serious acute conditions being diagnosed for the first time, and 11.4% had a chronic condition.

To identify the possibility of a missed diagnosis, researchers looked into whether these pediatric patients had been seen in an emergency department the week prior. They found a possible delayed diagnosis in 15.8% of these cases, and that delayed diagnoses were 26.7% less common in EDs with a higher pediatric patient volume.

The same trend was evidenced across 21 of 23 conditions, the researchers note, adding that patients with delayed diagnoses were 11% more likely to have complications. To alleviate the issue, they recommend EDs incorporate additional resources, including those provided by the National Pediatric Readiness Project, as well as programs that make pediatricians available to EDs via teleconsultations.

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