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Pediatrics. 1992 Jul;90(1 Pt 1):5-10.

Spectrum and frequency of pediatric illness presenting to a general community hospital emergency department.

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Division of Emergency Medicine, Children's Hospital, Boston, MA 02115.


Knowledge of the range of pediatric illness presenting to a general emergency department (ED) is needed to optimize the quality of care delivered there. It was hypothesized that the pediatric population treated at a general ED exhibited a broad range of medical complaints, while differing significantly from children seen in a pediatric ED. General ED records from 1 week each season were reviewed, and patient age, chief complaint, diagnosis, time of arrival, season, and disposition were recorded. Data on 874 patients were analyzed and compared with pediatric ED data. General ED patient age affected chief complaint, diagnosis, and admission rate (9.5% less than or equal to 1 year admitted vs 2.6% greater than 1 year, P less than .001). General ED patients were older (7.9 vs 6.0 years, P less than .001) and admitted less frequently (3.8% vs 11%, P less than .001). Admission rates varied by arrival time only at the general ED, where minor trauma was more common (41% vs 22%, P less than .001). It is concluded that a wide range of pediatric illness is treated in a general ED, supporting the decision to have pediatric emergency physicians on staff, and that significant differences exist in the spectrum and frequency of pediatric illness seen in a general ED and pediatric ED.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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