Factors Associated With First Medication Time for Children Treated in the Emergency Department for Asthma

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ObjectivesAcute asthma exacerbations are among the most common reasons for childhood emergency department (ED) visits and hospitalizations. Although early ED administration of asthma medication has been shown to decrease hospitalizations, studies of factors associated with early ED asthma medication delivery have been limited. The objective of our study was to identify patient- and ED-related factors associated with early medication delivery among children treated in the ED for asthma exacerbations.MethodsThis retrospective study used electronic health record data from all encounters for a primary diagnosis of asthma in an academic children's hospital ED during the study period 2009 to 2013. Using multivariate logistic regression, we identified the association between patient- and ED-related factors and the time to first medication defined as a binary outcome using a threshold of 1 hour from ED arrival. We then stratified our analysis by triage level (Emergency Severity Index [ESI]).ResultsOf the 4846 encounters during the study period, 62% were male, mean age was 7.30 years, 76% had public insurance, and 57% had an ESI level of 3. Medication was administered within 1 hour of arrival in 2236 encounters (46%). After adjusting for covariates, multivariate logistic regression revealed that patients were less likely to have medications within 1 hour when they had less severe ESI (ESI 2 vs ESI 4: odds ratio [OR], 0.139; confidence interval [CI], 0.114–0.170), arrived via non–emergency medical services (OR, 0.525; CI, 0.413–0.665), or arrived to a crowded ED (OR, 0.574; CI, 0.505–0.652). Age, sex, and insurance type were not associated with timeliness of initial medication administration. Stratified analyses demonstrated that the crowding effect was larger for less severely ill patients.ConclusionsOur study found that patient severity (acuity level, arrival mode) and level of ED crowing—but not demographic factors—are associated with the administration of medication in the first hour to pediatric patients with asthma. Our findings may be helpful in redesigning asthma care management strategies.

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