Douglas S Nelson

University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah, United States

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Publications (10)21.02 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Closed head injury (CHI) is common in childhood and frequently results in hospital admission for observation and treatment. Observation units (OUs) have shown significant benefits for patients and physicians. At our institution, a level 1 pediatric trauma center, patients with CHI are often admitted to an OU for up to 24 hours of observation and treatment. To describe characteristics of patients with a CHI admitted to a pediatric OU and to identify demographic, historical, clinical, and radiographic factors associated with the need for unplanned inpatient admission (UIA) after OU management. Retrospective cohort review of all OU admissions for CHI at Primary Children's Medical Center (PCMC) from August 1999 through July 2001. Data collected included age, gender, mechanism of injury, presenting symptoms, physical examination findings, head computed tomography (CT) results, diagnosis, length of stay, outcome of the injury, and need for UIA. During the study period, 827 patients were seen in the ED for CHI. Two hundred eighty-five patients (34%) were admitted to the OU, 273 (33%) were admitted to an inpatient service, and 269 (33%) were discharged home. OU patients had a median age of 5.2 years, ranging from 2 weeks to 17 years. Sixty-one percent were male. The median admission length of stay was 13 hours. Common mechanisms of injury included: falls (60%), motor vehicle accidents (12%), bicycle accidents (10%), impacts from objects (9%), auto-pedestrian accidents (4.6%), and snow-related accidents (4.6%). Presenting symptoms in the ED included vomiting (39%), loss of consciousness (26%), amnesia to event (19%), persistent amnesia (5%), and seizures (4%). Physical examination findings noted in the ED included altered mental status (45%), facial abnormalities (43%), scalp abnormalities (38%), and neurologic deficits (9%). Two hundred eighty patients (98%) admitted to the OU had a head CT performed. Skull fractures were present in 109 patients (39%) and intracranial pathology (ie, epidural hematoma, subdural hematoma, or intraparenchymal contusion) was present in 38 patients (13%). Only 13 patients (5%) required admission to an inpatient service from the OU for the following reasons: continued need for intravenous (IV) fluids (n = 5), venous thrombosis (n = 2), persistent CSF leakage (n = 3), decreased level of consciousness (n = 1), pain management (n = 1), and clearing of the patient's cervical spine (n = 1). No patient deteriorated or required neurosurgery. Patients with basilar skull fractures, a head laceration (scalp or facial), and patients that needed IV fluids in the ED were more likely to need inpatient admission after a 24-hour observation stay. Logistic regression analysis identified basilar skull fractures (OR 11.61), face/scalp lacerations (OR 7.52), and the need for ED IV fluid administration (OR 4.26) to be associated with UIA. Most children with these findings were successfully discharged within 24 hours, however. Age, sex, loss of consciousness, seizure, vomiting, amnesia, altered mental status, neurologic deficits, intracranial pathology, and skull fractures (aside from basilar skull fractures) were not related to UIA. The vast majority (96%) of pediatric OU patients with CHI such as small intracranial hematomas, skull fractures, and concussions were discharged safely within 24 hours without serious complications. The presence of a basilar skull fracture, head laceration, and the need for ED IV fluids were associated with increased risk of UIA. OU admission is an efficient and effective management setting for children with stable intracranial pathology, skull fractures, and concussions.
    No preview · Article · Nov 2005 · Pediatric emergency care
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    Michael J Miescier · Douglas S Nelson · Sean D Firth · Howard A Kadish
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    ABSTRACT: Observation units (OUs) serve patients who require more evaluation or treatment than possible during an emergency department visit and who are anticipated to stay in the hospital for a short defined period. Asthma is a common admission diagnosis in a pediatric OU. Our main objective was to identify clinical factors associated with failure to discharge a child with asthma from our OU within 24 hours. Retrospective chart review at a tertiary care children's hospital. Participants were children 2 years or older with asthma admitted from the emergency department to the OU during August 1999 to August 2001. The OU-discharged group comprised those successfully discharged from the OU within 24 hours. The unplanned inpatient admission group comprised those subsequently admitted from the OU to a traditional inpatient ward or those readmitted to the hospital within 48 hours of OU discharge. One hundred sixty-one children aged 2 to 20 years (median 4.0; 63% boys) met inclusion criteria; 40 patients (25%) required unplanned inpatient admission. In a multiple logistic regression model, 3 factors were associated with need for unplanned inpatient admission: female sex (adjusted odds ratio, 2.6; 95% confidence interval, 1.1-6.4; P = 0.03), temperature 38.5 degrees C or higher (adjusted odds ratio, 6.1; 95% confidence interval, 1.6-23.5; P < 0.01), and need for supplemental oxygen at the end of emergency department management (adjusted odds ratio, 5; 95% confidence interval, 1.7-15.1; P < 0.01). Many children with asthma can be admitted to a pediatric OU and discharged safely within 24 hours. Prospective studies are needed to confirm our findings and to identify other factors predictive of unplanned inpatient admission.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2005 · Pediatric emergency care
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    Alison C Rentz · Howard A Kadish · Douglas S Nelson
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    ABSTRACT: Observation units (OUs) are widely used to care for adults, but little is published about their use in pediatrics. During the planning stages of our pediatric OU, community primary medical doctors (PMDs) expressed concerns about not admitting and managing their own patients in this unit controlled by pediatric emergency physicians. This study surveyed PMDs to determine their satisfaction with the pediatric OU two and a half years after opening. A satisfaction survey was mailed to pediatricians, family practitioners, and pediatric subspecialists whose patients had been admitted to the study pediatric OU from August 1999 to January 2002. A Likert scale ranging 1 to 4 was used to measure satisfaction in 4 areas. In addition, there were questions regarding the utility of the OU for treatment of common pediatric illnesses. 198 of 248 (80%) surveys were returned. Pediatricians (64%) and family practitioners (23%) were represented most often. Fifty-three percent of PMD respondents had 10 or more patients admitted during the study period. Median satisfaction scores were 4 (most satisfied) in all areas measured. Over 60% of physicians surveyed felt that the OU was useful in the treatment of dehydration, gastroenteritis, reactive airway disease, and bronchiolitis. The model of an ED-controlled pediatric observation unit received high satisfaction ratings in all areas by community and subspecialty physicians two and a half years after opening. The initial reservations voiced by community physicians have not resurfaced.
    Preview · Article · Aug 2004 · Pediatric emergency care
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    ABSTRACT: We describe the efficacy of propofol sedation administered by pediatric emergency physicians to facilitate painful outpatient procedures. By using a protocol for patients receiving propofol sedation in an emergency department-affiliated short-stay unit, a prospective, consecutive case series was performed from January to September 2000. Patients were prescheduled, underwent a medical evaluation, and met fasting requirements. A sedation team was present throughout the procedure. All patients received supplemental oxygen. Sedation depth and vital signs were monitored while propofol was manually titrated to the desired level of sedation. There were 291 separate sedation events in 87 patients. No patient had more than 1 sedation event per day. Median patient age was 6 years; 57% were male patients and 72% were oncology patients. Many children required more than 1 procedure per encounter. Most commonly performed procedures included lumbar puncture (43%), intrathecal chemotherapy administration (31%), bone marrow aspiration (19%), and bone biopsy (3%). Median total propofol dose was 3.5 mg/kg. Median systolic and diastolic blood pressures were lowered 22 mm Hg (range 0 to 65 mm Hg) and 21 mm Hg (range 0 to 62 mm Hg), respectively. Partial airway obstruction requiring brief jaw-thrust maneuver was noted for 4% of patient sedations, whereas transient apnea requiring bag-valve-mask ventilation occurred in 1% of patient sedations. All procedures were successfully completed. Median procedure duration was 13 minutes, median sedation duration was 22 minutes, and median total time in the short stay unit was 40 minutes. Propofol sedation administered by emergency physicians safely facilitated short painful procedures in children under conditions studied, with rapid recovery.
    No preview · Article · Jan 2004 · Annals of Emergency Medicine
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    ABSTRACT: We sought to describe pediatric, blunt trauma patients with pelvic fracture (PF) and to evaluate pelvis examination sensitivity and specificity. We conducted a prospective study of blunt trauma patients at a Level I pediatric trauma center. A pediatric emergency medicine physician attempted to diagnose a PF, solely on the basis of the history and pelvis examination. Patients with blunt trauma but no pelvic fracture (NPF) were used as controls. We enrolled 140 patients (16 PF, 124 NPF), and no significant differences were found regarding median age, gender, injury mechanism, acuity, and medical outcome. Approximately 25% of PF patients had iliac-wing fractures; 37%, single pelvic ring; 25%, double pelvic ring; and 13%, acetabular fractures. Eleven patients with PF had an abnormal pelvis examination (69% sensitivity), compared with six NPF patients (95% specificity, negative predictive value 0.91). Pediatric patients with PF have low mortality and few complex fractures. The pelvis examination appears to have both high specificity and negative predictive value.
    No preview · Article · Aug 2001 · The Journal of trauma
  • P. Chris Baker · Douglas S. Nelson · Jeff E. Schunk
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    ABSTRACT: To determine whether the addition of a single dose of ceftriaxone sodium to a 10-day course of trimethoprim and sulfamethoxazole hastens urine sterilization or resolution of clinical symptoms in febrile children with urinary tract infections. Prospective, single-blind, randomized study. Tertiary care children's hospital emergency department. Febrile children aged 6 months to 12 years with a presumptive urinary tract infection based on history, physical examination, and urinalysis findings. A history was taken, a physical examination and urinalysis and culture were performed, and a white blood cell count and erythrocyte sedimentation rate were obtained. Children were randomized to receive an intramuscular dose of ceftriaxone then 10 days of trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (IM + PO group) or oral trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole alone (PO group). After receiving study medication, patients were discharged from the hospital to return in 48 hours for a follow-up evaluation and urine culture. Treatment failure was defined as the persistence of a positive culture at 48 hours or the need for hospital admission for intravenous rehydration or antibiotic therapy. Sixty-nine children were enrolled, 34 in the IM + PO group and 35 in the PO group. The 2 groups were similar at the initial visit with respect to age, sex, clinical degrees of illness, white blood cell count, and erythrocyte sedimentation rate (P>.05). At the 48-hour follow-up visit, there were no differences between the 2 treatment groups in resolution of vomiting, fever, general appearance, abdominal tenderness, and hydration state (P>.05). There were 9 treatment failures, 4 in the IM + PO group and 5 in the PO group (P =.93). The addition of a single dose of intramuscular ceftriaxone to a 10-day course of oral trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole for urinary tract infection with fever resulted in no difference at 48 hours in the urine sterilization rate, degree of clinical improvement, or subsequent hospital admission rate.
    No preview · Article · Feb 2001 · Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine
  • Nanette C. Kunkel · Douglas S. Nelson · Jeff E. Schunk
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    ABSTRACT: This study aims to describe parental choices of childhood automotive restraints and compare them with guidelines based on weight and height. Parents were surveyed and their children's heights and weight were measured. Results indicated that many parents believed their child fit a lap or shoulder belt when their children were too short to fit these devices. For children weighing < 40 pounds, 45% of parents believed the lap belt fit. Thirteen percent of 4-7-year-olds used booster seats, appropriate for 72% by sitting height criteria; and 33% of children < or = 7 years used the lap/shoullder belt, appropriate for 8% by sitting height criteria. Implications are that parental perceptions of fit may lead to inappropriate restraint choices for children. Practitioners should discuss child restraint use with parents in the context of their child's weight and height.
    No preview · Article · Jan 2001 · Clinical Pediatrics
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    ABSTRACT: To determine the incidence of appendiceal perforation (AP) among children with acute appendicitis (AA) and determine factors associated with AP. Retrospective chart review. Emergency department (ED) of Primary Children's Medical Center (PCMC). 131 children less than 17 years of age with AA diagnosed in the PCMC ED. The overall rate of AP was 47%. One hundred eleven (85%) children with AA were correctly diagnosed on their first ED visit. Patients with AP had a significantly (P < 0.05) lower median age (8.0 vs 11.0 years), longer duration of illness (3.0 vs 1.4 days), greater incidence of vomiting and fever by history (91% vs 69% and 83% vs 58%, respectively), higher median temperatures (39.0 degrees vs 38.3 degrees C), and higher proportions of leukocyte (WBC) band forms (14% vs 5%). Patients with AP did not differ from those without AP with respect to total WBC count, hour of arrival, or number of ED visits. The rate of AP among pediatric patients with AA is greater among younger children and is associated with vomiting, prolonged illness, and higher body temperatures. Unexpectedly, patients with AP did not have higher total WBC values, more frequent late night arrivals, a longer time interval prior to surgery, or more ED visits prior to diagnosis. These findings suggest that efforts to decrease the rate of AP should be directed toward heightening awareness among primary care physicians regarding the high rate of AP in children, with an emphasis on early ED and surgical referral.
    No preview · Article · Aug 2000 · Pediatric Emergency Care
  • Douglas S. Nelson · Jason R. Hoagland · Nanette C. Kunkel
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    ABSTRACT: Many agents suitable for pediatric outpatient sedation have been identified and compared, but less data have appeared on the effect of sedation use on Emergency Department (ED) length of stay (LOS) or visit costs. We sought to discover the relationship between one commonly used method of sedation, orally administered midazolam, and ED LOS and visit costs. Parents were then surveyed to determine their attitudes toward sedation given knowledge of these costs. All ED patients under 10 years of age seen in a pediatric ED during April and May of 1996 for repair of lacerations <2.5 cm in length were identified via retrospective chart review. Children were excluded if they had other significant injuries, received sedatives other than oral midazolam, or were repaired by non-ED physicians. Preliminary cost and LOS data from this review was used to create a parental survey measuring attitudes toward the costs of an unnamed form of sedation (not mentioning oral midazolam). A convenience sample of parents in an ED waiting room were asked if they would want sedation administered to a child needing sutures if this increased the visit cost by $100 and/or increased LOS by 30 minutes. Parents were then asked to re-answer these questions assuming that the sedation medication was effective only 50% of the time. Of 120 patients meeting entry criteria, 57 (48%) received oral midazolam. Children sedated with this agent were significantly younger (3.6 vs. 4.6 years, P = 0.015), had more layered repairs (30% vs. 14%, P = 0.047), and more facial lacerations (84% vs. 63%, P = 0.01) when compared with nonsedated patients. Mean LOS for patients with simple lacerations receiving oral midazolam increased by 17.1 minutes (P = 0.03) compared with nonsedated children; for layered repairs, the mean increase was 30.9 minutes (P<0.05). The use of oral midazolam did not effect physician charges, but did significantly increase mean combined nurse/hospital charges and total charges by 73 to 87 dollars, depending on laceration type (P<0.001 all cases). Of 81 parents surveyed, 81% said that they would be willing to wait 30 extra minutes for sedation to be used; this figure fell to 73% if sedation was effective 50% of the time. Seventy-five percent of parents were willing to pay $100 extra for sedation; 67% if sedation was effective only half the time. Willingness to endure a longer LOS or pay increased charges was not associated with parental sex or insurance status. The use of oral midazolam significantly increases ED visit LOS and cost. This information is important to review with parents when discussing sedation options. Up to one third of parents surveyed would not want to wait extra time or pay extra money for sedation to be administered, especially if the efficacy of the chosen method was not assured.
    No preview · Article · Apr 2000 · Pediatric Emergency Care
  • Douglas S Nelson · Mindy B Gurr · Jeff E Schunk
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    ABSTRACT: This study of the management of children with fever and urinary tract infection (UTI) was conducted to identify factors associated with initial admission, outpatient treatment, and outpatient treatment failure. A retrospective chart review identified children 3 months to 16 years of age with an emergency department (ED) diagnosis of cystitis, pyelonephritis, or UTI, a positive urine culture, and an ED temperature of >38 degrees C. Sixty-nine patients (90% female) were studied; 19% were admitted initially. Age younger than 2 years was associated with admission (P < .001). Of those initially discharged, 63% received parenteral antibiotics (usually intramuscular ceftriaxone), followed by oral antibiotics; 9% failed outpatient treatment. Outpatient failure was associated with higher initial temperatures (median 40.1 degrees C v 39.2 degrees C, P=.03, Mann-Whitney U) but was unrelated to age, initial white blood cell count, or use of parenteral antibiotics. These results indicate that most children with fever and UTI do not require hospital admission; those with temperatures of > or = 40 degrees C are at increased risk for outpatient failure.
    No preview · Article · Dec 1998 · American Journal of Emergency Medicine