Emerging Algorithm Aids Emergency Room Physicians and Trauma Specialists in Patient Care

In a recent development, the Pediatric Emergency Care Applied Research Field (PECARN), a network of pediatric emergency medicine practitioners, has completed a landmark study leading to the development of a new clinical algorithm aimed at reducing the use of computed tomography (CT) scans for diagnosing cervical spinal injuries in children following blunt trauma. This algorithm could potentially halve the number of unnecessary CT scans, aiming to strike a balance between appropriate care and minimizing the risk of cancer due to radiation exposure.

The study, involving 22,430 children across 18 pediatric emergency departments in the United States, indicated that only 1.9% of those who experienced blunt trauma were confirmed to have cervical spine injuries requiring significant intervention. PECARN’s research sought to provide an evidence-based method to help emergency medical services, emergency departments, and trauma teams determine which cases require spinal precautions and which do not, thereby avoiding unnecessary radiation from CT scans.

The comprehensive study, which included patients from birth to 17 years, was conducted at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles in collaboration with their trauma team, adding a multidisciplinary aspect vital for the future adoption of the findings. The observed reduction in CT scans from 17% to 7% did not lead to an increase in children receiving conventional X-rays, hence demonstrating the effectiveness of the algorithm without compromising patient safety.

The methodology of the research entailed a blend of clinical factors that signaled a high risk of cervical spine injury.

Source: Newswise

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