Association between Clinical Outcomes and Hospital Guidelines for Cerebrospinal Fluid Testing in Febrile Infants Aged 29-56 Days

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Abstract

Objective

To describe the association between clinical outcomes and clinical practice guidelines (CPGs) recommending universal cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) testing in the emergency department for febrile infants aged 29-56 days.

Study design

Using 2007-2013 administrative data from 32 US children's hospitals, we performed a difference-in-differences analysis comparing 7 hospitals with CPGs recommending universal CSF testing for older febrile infants aged 29-56 days (CPG group) with 25 hospitals without such CPGs (control group). We compared differences in clinical outcomes between older febrile infants with the corresponding differences among younger febrile infants aged 7-28 days. The primary outcome was the occurrence of an adverse event, defined as a delayed diagnosis of bacterial meningitis, mechanical ventilation, placement of a central venous catheter, extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, or in-hospital mortality. Analyses were adjusted for race/ethnicity, sex, median annual household income by zip code, primary insurance source, discharge season, and discharge year.

Results

The proportion of older febrile infants undergoing CSF testing was higher (P < .001) in the CPG group (64.8%) than the control group (47.8%). CPGs recommending universal CSF testing for older febrile infants were not associated with significant differences in adverse events (difference-in-differences: +0.31 percentage points, 95% CI −0.18 to 0.85; P = .22).

Conclusions

Hospital CPGs recommending universal CSF testing for febrile infants aged 29-56 days were not associated with significant differences in clinical outcomes.

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