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Pediatr Emerg Care. 2012 Jul;28(7):680-3. doi: 10.1097/PEC.0b013e31825d2121.

Effects of a system-wide fracture care program to enhance access and follow-up for orthopedics.

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Department of Pediatrics, Emory University, Atlanta, GA 30329, USA.



Fractures of the extremities are commonly encountered in pediatric emergency departments (PEDs) nationwide. These fractures can lead to bone malformation and deformities if not managed properly. There are multiple barriers to obtaining necessary outpatient follow-up for fracture care, which leads to increased return to the PED for management. Because of these barriers, a "Fracture Care Program" was implemented at the study hospital's network. This study aimed to determine implementation of a Fracture Care Program would lead to reduced PED utilization.


All visits to the study PEDs were examined from January 1 to August 30, 2010. At PED discharge, patients were given a Fracture Care Program handout, which outlined step-by-step instructions for identifying and scheduling an appointment with a local orthopedic surgeon as an outpatient. A telephone hotline number was also provided where they could speak with a representative of the orthopedics department for assistance in obtaining follow-up. Detailed records were reviewed to determine whether these instructions were associated with lower rates of return.


A total of 2120 patients met inclusion criteria. Of these, 1233 (58%) received the Fracture Care discharge instructions. After controlling for differences in payor status and demographic differences, patients who received instructions were less likely to return to the PED (odds ratio, 0.616; 95% confidence interval, 0.40-0.95) within 30 days for orthopedic care than patients who did not receive the instructions.


This systematic coordination of services of a large tertiary care pediatric health care system, local pediatric orthopedic surgery private practices, academic practices, and hospital-affiliated practices improved overall access for families related to orthopedic follow-up care. This model may also aid in helping to improve follow-up in other pediatric subspecialties.

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