Pediatric in the Literature


Hospital “Report Cards”: Variation in the Management of Bronchiolitis

Christakis DA, Cowan CA, Garrison MM, Molteni R, Marcuse E, Zerr DM. Variation in Inpatient Diagnostic Testing and Management of Bronchiolitis. Pediatrics. 2005;115:878-4.

Bronchiolitis remains 1 of the most common causes of hospitalization in children within the first 2 years of life. In this analysis, the authors conducted a large retrospective descriptive study of infants who were admitted with bronchiolitis to children’s hospitals across the United States. The study examined the variability in length of stay (LOS), diagnostic testing, medications used, and readmission rates. The authors reviewed data on a total of 17,397 infants younger than 1 year of age. Information was obtained from the Pediatric Health Information System, which includes demographic and diagnostic data on 36 freestanding, noncompeting children’s hospitals. The authors found significant and wide variation in LOS, readmission rates, treatment approaches, and use of diagnostic tests for inpatient management of bronchiolitis.

Results indicated that 72% of patients received chest radiographs, 45% received antibiotics, and 25% received systemic steroids. The mean LOS varied considerably across hospitals, with a range of 2.40–3.90 days. The use of antibiotics varied from 28% to 62%, and the use of chest radiographs varied from 38% to 89%. There was also significant difference in readmission rates, which varied from 0% to 2.7%. The variation between hospitals remained a significant contributor even after controlling for multiple potential confounding factors.

Decreasing LOS and unnecessary medication and test utilization is supportive of pediatric patient safety initiatives. The authors suggest that chest radiographs may be leading to unnecessary use of antibiotics due to presumptive treatment based on nonspecific findings. In addition, the authors hypothesize that increased virologic testing may be cost-effective if it leads to decreased use of antibiotics.

The study concludes that there are considerable, unexplained variations that exist in the inpatient management of bronchiolitis. Development of national guidelines and controlled trials of new therapies and different approaches are indicated. Hospitals need to direct resources at analyzing and improving their inpatient care by implementing a more evidence-based approach to management of this common problem.

Maternal Group B Streptococcal Positivity: Risk factor or not?

Puopolo KM, Madoff LC, Eichenwald EC. Early-onset group B streptococcal disease in the era of maternal screening. Pediatrics. 2005;115:1240-6.

Despite implementation of intrapartum antibiotic prophylaxis (IAP) based on maternal screening for group B streptococcus (GBS) colonization, cases of early-onset neonatal GBS disease (EOGBS) continue to occur with significant morbidity and mortality. Researchers at the Brigham and Woman’s Hospital in Boston, MA devised this retrospective analysis to determine which attributes of maternal screening, provision of IAP, or evaluation of newborns for sepsis might influence the persistence of EOGBS cases. A retrospective review of all cases of culture proven EOGBS between 1997 and 2003 identified 25 cases of EOGBS among the 67,260 live births, for an overall incidence of 0.37 per 1000 live births. The incidence in infants of very low birth weight was 3.3 cases per 1,000 live births. Among the mothers of term infants with EOGBS, 14 of 17 (82%) had been screened GBS negative; 1 was GBS unknown. Eight of these 14 GBS negative mothers had at least 1 intrapartum risk factor for neonatal sepsis but did not receive IAP. The authors hypothesize that the negative GBS status in these cases may have provided a false sense of reassurance to obstetricians.

Ten of the 17 term infants were evaluated for sepsis due to clinical signs of illness, while the remaining infants were evaluated based on intrapartum risk factors alone. Interestingly, the retrospective analysis demonstrated that 5 of the 25 bacterial isolates were resistant to clindamycin and/or erythromycin, with another 5 isolates partially resistant to 1 or both of these medications. One case of EOGBS disease was found in the child of a penicillin-allergic mother who received clindamycin for IAP. This article highlights the importance of reviewing intrapartum risk factors other than GBS colonization—i.e., delivery at <37 weeks’ gestation,

intrapartum temperature >100.4°C, or signs of clinical chorioamnionitis, in addition to documenting if IAP was provided and with which antibiotic in evaluation of neonates for possible EOGBS.

Treating Refractory Kawasaki Syndrome with Infliximab

Burns JC, Mason, WH, Hauger SB, et al. Infliximab treatment for refractory Kawasaki syndrome. J Pediatr. 2005;146: 662-7.

Citing a 10% to 20% failure rate for intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) in combination with high-dose aspirin (ASA) for treating Kawasaki syndrome (KS), these authors present a case series of patients with refractory KS who were treated with infliximab. Several treatments have been suggested for KS patients with persistent or recrudescent fever after IVIG and ASA; however, no clinical trials have established an optimal treatment. Tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α) has been shown not only to be elevated in patients with KS but also to correlate with development of coronary artery aneurysms. Infliximab, a TNF-α antagonist licensed for clinical use (Remicade, Centocor, Malvern, PA), is used in several immunologic diseases with inflammation mediated by this proinflammatory cytokine. In this poorly controlled case series, 17 patients with acute KS received infliximab after at least 2 doses of IVIG (2 g/kg) and daily ASA (80–100 mg/kg/day) because they were either persistently febrile (16 patients) or had severe arthritis without fever (1 patient). Fourteen of 16 febrile patients became afebrile. C-reactive protein was lower after infliximab in all patients with elevated CRP when remeasured within 48 hours of treatment. In addition to these signs of inflammation, the researchers also studied patient outcomes.

Of 12 patients with coronary artery abnormalities before treatment with infliximab, 4 had dilatation that resolved after treatment. The remaining 8 had either aneurysms or ectasia that were unchanged after therapy. No patients in the series had complications attributed to infliximab. The authors note that the cost of treatment with infliximab compares favorably with a 2 g/kg dose of IVIG. Appropriately, they also specifically address the potential adverse effects of infliximab, for which the pharmacodynamics, pharmacokinetics and safety have not been established in children <5 years of age. Data with regard to possible complications is inadequate and comes from studies of children and adults who typically receive multiple doses of infliximab for chronic inflammatory conditions that inherently can produce multiorgan symptoms. Of note, infliximab does not carry the risk of possible infectious contamination that treatment with IVIG poses. There are several important limitations to the study that are adequately addressed by the authors. Nonetheless, the series highlights the significance of current and future randomized, controlled clinical trials defining the role of TNF-α antagonism in the treatment of KS.

Do Freestanding Children’s Hospitals Improve Care?

Merenstein D, Egleston B, Diener-West M. Lengths of stay and costs associated with children’s hospitals. Pediatrics. 2005;115: 839-44.

Adult literature has shown that access to more subspecialty oriented care results in higher costs and more procedures but does not guarantee improved outcomes. Researchers from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and Johns Hopkins School of Public Health hypothesized that freestanding children’s hospitals would have longer lengths of stay (LOS) and higher costs compared with other hospitals with regard to similar diagnoses. To test the hypothesis, they studied 24,322 inpatient encounters for pneumonia, gastroenteritis, respiratory syncytial virus, dehydration, or asthma from the Heathcare Cost and Utilization Project Kids’ Inpatient database 2000. Of these encounters, 3,408 were from 23 different freestanding children’s hospitals, and the remaining 20,194 encounters were from 1,749 non-children’s hospitals. The children’s hospitals were all urban teaching hospitals. After adjusting for potentially confounding variables, the researchers found no significant difference in the LOS by hospital type. In this study, the median cost for an admission at a freestanding hospital was $1,294 more per hospitalization after adjustment for LOS and other potential confounder variables. In addition, the results showed that children’s hospitals were more likely to care for minority patients, patients with Medicaid, patients with multiple diagnoses, and patients transferred from other hospitals. The study design did not include direct measures of quality of care, so it is unclear if the increased cost of admission to a children’s hospital leads to improved care.

Asthma and Invasive Pneumococcal Infections

Talbot RT, Hartert TV Mitchel E, et al. Asthma as a risk factor for invasive pneumococcal disease. N Engl J Med. 2005; 352: 2082-90.

Current guidelines for pneumococcal vaccination exclude people with asthma, nor do the most recently published guidelines for management of asthma include pneumococcal vaccination. The authors of this study utilized public health databases to perform a nested case-controlled cohort study to determine the risk of pneumococcal disease among people with asthma. By combining a database of active surveillance for invasive pneumococcal disease (IPD) with a state-based managed healthcare program, researchers identified 635 cases of IPD in people with asthma and paired them with 6,350 age-matched controls. The age range of test subjects was 2 to 49 years (mean, 28.5). After adjustment for race and other conditions with high risk for IPD, asthma was significantly associated with increased risk of IPD (OR: 2.4; 95% CI: 1.9 to 3.1). This finding was consistent in analyses stratified for age (2 to 4 years and 5 to 17 years). Of the isolates causing IPD, 56.9% were among the 7 serotypes included in the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, with an additional 29.1% found only in the 23-valent polysaccharide vaccine. The authors hypothesize that obstruction caused by increased production and decreased clearance of mucus and the chronic airway inflammation found in asthma are plausible etiologies for the increased risk of IPD. They conclude that consideration should be given for the addition of asthma to the list of conditions warranting pneumococcal vaccination, particularly for the younger population in the study, who are less likely to have other high-risk conditions for which vaccination is already recommended.

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