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In 1996, the American Academy of Pediatrics published practice parameters for the acute management of febrile seizure. These guidelines emphasize the typically benign nature of the condition and discourage aggressive neurodiagnostic evaluation. The extent to which these suggestions have been adopted by general emergency medicine practitioners is unknown. We sought to describe recent patterns of the emergency department (ED) evaluation of febrile seizures with respect to these parameters.A retrospective review of records of children between 6 month and 6 years of age diagnosed with "febrile seizure" (International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision, Clinical Modification 780.31) at 42 community hospital general EDs nationwide was performed. Electronic records of an ED physician billing service from October 2002 to September 2003 were used to identify relevant records. Data had been entered into a proprietary template documentation system, and all charts were reviewed by a professional coder blinded to outcomes of interest. Rates of resource utilization (including lumbar puncture, radiography, hospital admission) were noted.A total of 1029 charts met inclusion criteria. The overall rate of lumbar puncture was 5.2%, and variations were strongly associated with age (8.4% <18 months old vs 3.3% >18 months old). This low rate and age discrimination were consistent with the guidelines of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Although not recommended in the routine evaluation of febrile seizure, computed tomography was part of the evaluation in 11%. The overall rate of admissions or transfers was 12%.Six years after publication of practice parameters, the use of lumbar puncture in the evaluation of febrile seizure is uncommon and most patients are discharged home. However, the relatively frequent use of head computed tomography is inconsistent with these practice guidelines and merits further investigation.