Evidence Into Practice: Emergency Physician Management of Common Pediatric Fractures

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Abstract

Objectives

Randomized trials have shown that removable immobilization devices are at least as good as circumferential casts for the management of common specific types of pediatric wrist and ankle fractures. Our main objective was to determine the proportion of emergency physicians who prescribe removable devices for distal radius buckle fractures and/or nondisplaced distal fibular Salter-Harris I fractures. We also examined follow-up referral patterns for these injuries.

Methods

This was an online survey of members of 2 national emergency physician associations in Canada: Pediatric Emergency Research Canada and the Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians.

Results

Of the 849 eligible participants, 447 responded to the survey, yielding an aggregate response rate of 52.7%. Organization-specific response rates were 169 (70.4%) of 240 for the Pediatric Emergency Research Canada and 278 (45.6%) of 609 for the Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians. Overall, 263 of 416 (63.2%; 95% confidence interval [CI], 58.6–67.8) of emergency physicians treat buckle fractures of the distal radius with a removable splint and refer 212 of 398 (53.3%; 95% CI, 48.4–58.2) of these injuries to the primary care physician for follow-up. For Salter-Harris I fractures of the distal fibula, emergency physicians treat 201 of 416 (48.3%; 95% CI, 43.5–53.1) with a removable ankle support and refer 94 of 398 (23.6%; 95% CI, 19.4–27.8) to the primary care physician for follow-up.

Conclusions

At least 50% of the surveyed Canadian emergency physicians treat distal radius buckle fractures and/or Salter-Harris I fibular fractures with a removable immobilization device, and the primary care physician follow-up of these injuries occur with some regularity for both these injuries.

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