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Pediatr Emerg Care. 2019 Nov;35(11):791-798. doi: 10.1097/PEC.0000000000001966.

Improving Bronchiolitis Care in Outpatient Settings Across a Health Care System.

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From the Children's Healthcare of Atlanta.
Emory University School of Medicine.
Morehouse School of Medicine.
Pediatric Emergency Medicine Associates, Atlanta, GA.



This study aimed (1) to reduce use of ineffective testing and therapies in children with bronchiolitis across outpatient settings in a large pediatric health care system and (2) to assess the cost impact and sustainability of these initiatives.


We designed a system-wide quality improvement project for patients with bronchiolitis seen in 3 emergency departments (EDs) and 5 urgent care (UC) centers. Interventions included development of a best-practice guideline and education of all clinicians (physicians, nurses, and respiratory therapists), ongoing performance feedback for physicians, and a small physician financial incentive. Measures evaluated included use of chest x-ray (CXR), albuterol, viral testing, and direct (variable) costs. Data were tracked using statistical process control charts.


For 3 bronchiolitis seasons, albuterol use decreased from 54% to 16% in UC and from 45% to 16% in ED. Chest x-ray usage decreased from 29% to 9% in UC and from 21% to 12% in the ED. Viral testing in UC decreased from 18% to 2%. Cost of care was reduced by $283,384 within our system in the first 2 seasons following guideline implementation. Improvements beginning in the first bronchiolitis season were sustained and strengthened in the second and third seasons. Admissions from the ED and admissions after return to the ED within 48 hours of initial discharge did not change.


A system-wide quality improvement project involving multiple outpatient care settings reduced the use of ineffective therapies and interventions in patients with bronchiolitis and resulted in significant cost savings. Improvements in care were sustained for 3 bronchiolitis seasons.

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