Appendicitis and Analgesia in the Pediatric Emergency Department: Are We Adequately Controlling Pain?

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Abstract

Objectives

The primary objective of the study was to compare analgesia-prescribing practices and timing of analgesia administration between pediatric emergency medicine (PEM) and general emergency medicine (GEM) practitioners for children with appendicitis. The secondary objective was to compare analgesia administration versus triage pain score, pediatric appendicitis score (PAS), and body mass index (BMI).

Methods

This was a retrospective chart review of patients younger than 21 years who presented to either an urban pediatric emergency department (ED) or 2 general EDs and were diagnosed with appendicitis.

Results

Two hundred eighteen charts were reviewed, 153 (70%) from the pediatric ED and 65 (30%) from the general EDs. The patients seen by PEM physicians were younger than the patients seen by GEM physicians (mean age, 12.8 vs 15.4 years; P = 0.002). The patients evaluated by GEM physicians were more likely to receive analgesia in the ED (82% vs 60%, P = 0.003) and received analgesia sooner (mean, 178 vs 239 minutes; P = 0.026) than the patients evaluated by PEM physicians. The patients with triage pain scores higher than 6 of 10 were more likely to receive analgesia than the patients with pain scores lower than 6 (71% vs 51%, P = 0.015). There was no association between PAS or BMI and analgesia administration or time to analgesia (P = not significant).

Conclusions

The patients with appendicitis evaluated by GEM physicians were more likely to receive analgesia and receive analgesia quicker than the patients evaluated by PEM physicians. The patients with higher pain scores were more likely to receive analgesia, but PAS and BMI did not affect analgesia administration.

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