Background: C-Reactive protein (CRP) is an important diagnostic marker for serious bacterial infections in febrile children. C-Reactive protein bedside testing could potentially accelerate the diagnostic evaluation and shorten length of stay (LOS).
Objective: The aim of the study was to study the effect of introducing CRP bedside testing on the LOS of febrile children at the emergency department (ED).
Design and intervention: A prospective observational study with a preimplementation cohort (2008) with traditional CRP testing and a postimplementation cohort (2009-2011) in which CRP bedside testing was introduced.
Patients and setting: All previously healthy children with fever, aged 1 month to 16 years, attending the ED of a university hospital were included; non-ill-appearing children with an upper airway infection were not eligible for CRP bedside testing.
Analysis and main outcome measure: Multivariable linear regression and propensity score analyses were used to determine the effect of CRP bedside testing on the logarithmic transformation length of stay [(log)LOS].
Results: The preimplementation cohort included 609 children of whom 286 (47%) had traditional CRP. The postimplementation cohort included the following 1330 children: 728 (55%) children had bedside CRP and 156 (12%) children had traditional CRP. Bedside CRP significantly lowered the median LOS of children in whom an additional diagnostic CRP test was performed, from 178 minutes (interquartile range, 135-232 minutes) to 148 minutes (interquartile range, 108-200 minutes) (30 minutes, 19% of total LOS). A significant reduction of 15% of the (log)LOS remained after adjusting for other determinants of (log)LOS; propensity score analysis showed a 16% reduction.
Conclusions: C-Reactive protein bedside testing substantially lowered the LOS of children with fever at the ED in whom an additional diagnostic CRP test was performed.