Pediatric Emergency Department Resource Utilization among Children with Primary Care Clinic Contact in the Preceding 2 Days: A Cross-Sectional Study

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To characterize pediatric patient contacts with their primary care clinic in the 2 days preceding a visit to the emergency department (ED) and explore how the type of clinic contact relates to ED resource use.

Study design

We conducted a retrospective chart review of 368 pediatric ED visits in the first 7 days of each month, from September 2012 to August 2013. Visits were included if the family contacted their child's general pediatric clinic in the study health system in the 2 days preceding the ED visit. Descriptive statistics were calculated. Primary outcomes were ED resource use (tests, treatments) and disposition (admission or discharge). Outcomes by type of clinic contact were compared with χ2 statistics.


Of 1116 records with ED visits in the 12 study weeks extracted from the electronic medical record, 368 ED visits met inclusion criteria. Most ED visits followed a single clinic contact (78.8%). Of the 474 clinic contacts, 149 were in-person visits, 216 phone calls when clinic was open, and 109 phone calls when clinic was closed. ED visits that followed an in-person clinic contact with advice to go to the ED had significantly greater rates of testing and admission than those advised to go to the ED after phone contact and those never advised to go to the ED.


In-person clinic visits with advice to go to the ED were associated with the greatest ED resource use. Limitations include a study of a single health system without a uniform process for triaging patients to the ED across clinics.

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