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Pediatr Emerg Care. 2019 Jan 29. doi: 10.1097/PEC.0000000000001739. [Epub ahead of print]

Accuracy of Parental-Reported Tetanus Vaccination Status for Children With Lacerations.

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Division of Emergency Medicine, Department of Surgery, University of Utah.
Primary Children's Hospital, Intermountain Healthcare, Salt Lake City, UT.
From the Division of Pediatric Emergency Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, and.



The aim of this study was to determine whether emergency department (ED) providers are able to accurately assess whether a child with a laceration needs tetanus prophylaxis.


We conducted an 8-month prospective cross-sectional study of children presenting with a laceration to a pediatric ED. We asked ED providers whether tetanus prophylaxis was necessary. An ED pharmacist accessed the Utah Statewide Immunization Information System (USIIS), and we assessed the accuracy of the ED provider's determination of necessary tetanus prophylaxis compared with USIIS records.


Among 375 patients aged 5 months to 17 years, ED providers made an inaccurate assessment of necessary tetanus prophylaxis in 33 cases (8.8%; 95% confidence interval [CI], 6.3%-12.1%). Emergency department providers would have inappropriately administered tetanus prophylaxis in 5 cases (1.3%; 95% CI, 0.5%-3.2%) and would have missed the need for tetanus prophylaxis in 28 cases (7.5%; 95% CI, 5.2%-10.6%). Emergency department providers were more likely to provide an inaccurate recommendation in older children (8.3 vs 4.8 years; P < 0.001), in patients with a dirty wound (45.5% vs 11.7%; P < 0.001), and in children who had fewer than 3 vaccines recorded in the USIIS (54.5% vs 1.2%; P < 0.001).


Emergency department providers may inaccurately assess the need for tetanus prophylaxis in children. Special attention should be paid to cases of dirty wounds and cases in which fewer than 3 tetanus-containing vaccines have been given.

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