Objective: Asthma is the most common chronic disease in children. Previous studies described significant variations in acute asthma management in children. This study was conducted to examine whether asthma management in the pediatric emergency department (ED) was improved through the use of an evidence-based acute asthma care guideline reminder card.
Methods: The Pediatric Acute Asthma Management Guideline (PAMG) was introduced to the ED of a pediatric tertiary care hospital in Ontario, Canada. Medical charts of 278 retrospective ED visits (January-December 2002) and 154 prospective visits (July 2003-June 2004) were reviewed to assess changes in acute asthma management such as medication treatment, asthma education, and discharge planning. Logistic and linear regressions were used to determine the effect of PAMG on asthma management in the ED. The propensity score method was used to adjust for confounding.
Results: During the implementation of PAMG, patients who visited the ED were more likely to receive oral corticosteroids (Adjusted Odds Ratio [AOR] = 2.26, 95% CI: 1.63-3.14, p < 0.0001) and oxygen saturation reassessment before ED discharge (AOR = 2.02, 95% CI: 1.45-2.82, p < 0.0001). They also received 0.23 (95% CI: 0.03-0.44, p = 0.0283) more doses of bronchodilator in the first hour of ED stay. Improvements in asthma education and discharge planning were noted, but the changes were not statistically significant.
Conclusions: After the implementation of an evidence-based guideline reminder card, medication treatment for acute asthma in the ED was significantly improved; however, asthma education and discharge planning remained unchanged. Future efforts on promoting guideline-based practice in the ED should focus on these components.