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Pediatrics. 2011 Feb;127(2):e287-95. doi: 10.1542/peds.2010-2214. Epub 2011 Jan 24.

Prospective assessment of practice pattern variations in the treatment of pediatric gastroenteritis.

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Division of Pediatric Emergency Medicine, Hospital for Sick Children, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada.



We aimed to determine whether significant variations in the use of intravenous rehydration existed among institutions, controlling for clinical variables, and to assess variations in the use of ancillary therapeutic and diagnostic modalities.


We conducted a prospective cohort study of children 3 to 48 months of age who presented to 11 emergency departments with acute gastroenteritis, using surveys, medical record reviews, and telephone follow-up evaluations.


A total of 647 eligible children were enrolled and underwent chart review; 69% (446 of 647 children) participated in the survey, and 89% of survey participants (398 of 446 children) had complete follow-up data. Twenty-three percent (149 of 647 children) received intravenous rehydration (range: 6%-66%; P < .001) and 13% (81 of 647 children) received ondansetron (range: 0%-38%; P < .001). Children who received intravenous rehydration had lower Canadian Triage Acuity Scale scores at presentation (3.1 ± 0.5 vs 3.5 ± 0.5; P < .0001). Regression analysis revealed that the greatest predictor of intravenous rehydration was institution location (odds ratio: 3.0 [95% confidence interval: 1.8-5.0]). Children who received intravenous rehydration at the index visit were more likely to have an unscheduled follow-up health care provider visit (29% vs 19%; P = .05) and to revisit an emergency department (20% vs 9%; P = .002).


In this cohort, intravenous rehydration and ondansetron use varied dramatically. Use of intravenous rehydration at the index visit was significantly associated with the institution providing care and was not associated with a reduction in the need for follow-up care.

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