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Telemed J E Health. 2009 Jul-Aug;15(6):538-45. doi: 10.1089/tmj.2009.0005.

Acute asthma management by a pediatric after-hours call center.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, Division of Emergency Medicine, The University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.


To describe an asthma management protocol used in a nurse-staffed pediatric After-Hours Call Center (AHCC) that incorporates severity-based home treatment recommendations and follow-up call assessments. Call records for asthma advice from January 1, 2004 to June 30, 2004 were identified retrospectively and reviewed. Descriptive statistics were used to report patient demographics, frequencies of symptom severity zones (Red, Yellow, or Green) at initial calls, frequencies of call dispositions designating care advice provided (including home treatment recommendations and seeking emergency department [ED] care), and changes in severity zones between initial calls and follow-up calls when nurses reassessed patients after recommended home treatment. During the study period, 3,632 asthma calls (2,439 initial; 1,193 follow-up) were managed by AHCC nurses. Initial calls were classified mostly as Red (28%) or Yellow (42%) severity zones; 27% were Green zone and 3% could not be categorized. Fifty-two percent of initial calls with Red or Yellow severity zones involved home treatment recommendations; 50% of those Red zone and 63% of those Yellow zone calls had improved severity zones at follow-up call assessments. Twenty-eight percent of patients with home treatment recommendations were referred to the ED at the time of follow-up call nurse reassessment. This telephone-based nurse-staffed pediatric acute asthma management protocol includes provision of severity-based home treatment recommendations and follow-up assessments, and improved symptoms for many children with acute exacerbations. This protocol may also be successful in other locations and may improve outcomes, such as reduction in ED visits.

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