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Pediatr Emerg Care. 2005 Apr;21(4):242-7.

Bronchiolitis in US emergency departments 1992 to 2000: epidemiology and practice variation.

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Department of Medicine, Children's Hospital Boston, Boston, MA 02115, USA.



To describe the epidemiology of US emergency department (ED) visits for bronchiolitis, including the characteristics of children presenting to the ED and the variability in bronchiolitis care in the ED.


Data were obtained from the 1992 to 2000 National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey. Cases had International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision, Clinical Modification code 466 and were younger than 2 years. National estimates were obtained using assigned patient visit weights; 95% confidence intervals were calculated using the relative standard error of the estimate; analysis used chi2 and logistic regression.


From 1992 to 2000, bronchiolitis accounted for approximately 1,868,000 ED visits for children younger than 2 years. Among this same age group, the overall rate was 26 (95% confidence interval 22-31) per 1000 US population and 31 (95% confidence interval 26-36) per 1000 ED visits. These rates were stable over the 9-year period. Comparing children with bronchiolitis to those presenting with other problems, children with bronchiolitis were more likely boys (61% vs. 53%; P = 0.01) and Hispanic (27% vs. 20%; P = 0.008). Therapeutic interventions varied and 19% were admitted to the hospital. The multivariate predictor for receiving systemic steroids was urgent/emergent status at triage (odds ratio 4.0, 1.9-8.4). Multivariate predictors for admission were Hispanic ethnicity (odds ratio 2.3, 1.1-5.0) and urgent/emergent status at triage (odds ratio 3.7, 2.0-6.9).


ED visit rates for bronchiolitis among children younger than 2 years were stable between 1992 and 2000. The observed ED practice variation demonstrates that children are receiving medications for which there is little supporting evidence. Boys and Hispanics are at-risk groups for presentation to the ED, and Hispanics are more likely to be hospitalized.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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