Most children who come into the Emergency Department present with pain or experience pain during their ED stay.1,2,3 Pain and distress during a procedure can leave a lasting impact on a child and contribute to mistrust of the medical system and compliance with future procedures.1 ,4,5 Children who use active forms of coping report less pain and distress during a procedure.3 To help with coping, when feasible, involve parents or family, nursing and a child life specialist. If the parents are willing, try to get them involved in all parts of the medical procedure.2,3 This includes positioning the patient with a parent in a secure parental-hugging hold or maintaining close physical contact throughout the procedure.6 This can easily replace immobilization of a child or the use of restraints which can cause increased fear and escalate the degree of anxiety in a child.2
A lumbar puncture (LP) is a common procedure that every emergency physician must master. Pediatric LPs can be challenging for even the most experienced clinician due to small anatomy, difficulty with patient cooperation, and lack of frequency performed. A successful procedure is defined by obtaining cerebrospinal fluid and/or performing a non-traumatic lumbar puncture. There are multiple variables that lead to a successful pediatric lumbar puncture including provider experience, use of anesthesia, and patient positioning. Success rates for pediatric lumbar punctures are variable, with a large range from 34%-75%.1
A 10-year old girl presents with progressively worsening right lower quadrant pain for the last 2 days. She reports having chills and feeling warm. Her review of systems is negative for nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or urinary symptoms. Her abdominal exam is unremarkable except for some diffuse, mild tenderness with deep palpation in bilateral lower quadrants. Labs: WBC 9 x 10^9/L. Because of radiation exposure concerns, you order an abdominal ultrasound as the initial imaging modality to evaluate for appendicitis. The radiologist’s reading was: “Unable to visualize the appendix.” Now, what do you do?
During your shifts in the pediatric ED, you may encounter a few patients with adrenal insufficiency or adrenal crisis. Some of the most common causes include those patients with Addison disease, pituitary hypothalamic pathology, and those patients on chronic steroids. When these patients get sick or sustain trauma, it is important to consider giving them a stress dose of hydrocortisone. Patients in adrenal insufficiency or crisis can present with dehydration, weakness, nausea, vomiting, confusion, lethargy, and severe hypotension refractory to vasopressors. 1–3
A 9-year boy was hit in the head during a soccer game and was out for a few seconds. He regained consciousness quickly, but was repetitive for EMS. By the time the patient arrived at the ED, he was back to his normal self. Did this patient sustain a concussion? If so, what discharge instructions, anticipatory guidance, and resources do you have for your patient and his family? Here’s a quick 170-second animated video tutorial to sum up some thing for you.
Children with chest pain commonly present to the emergency department. Both the child and family members may think their symptoms are due to a serious illness. Among adolescents seen for their chest pain, more than 50% thought they were having a heart attack or that they had cancer.1 In reality, only 6% of pediatric chest pain has a cardiac etiology.2 Nonetheless, extensive and costly emergency department (ED) evaluations are common and there is wide practice variation.3
But prior to reassuring your patient, what can you do to reassure yourself that your patient doesn’t need a more extensive workup? What would make you suspicious for cardiac causes of pediatric chest pain?
You are working your evening shift at the pediatrics emergency department, and you walk into a darkened patient room with a distressed mother and her otherwise healthy 10-year old son who is curled in a ball, holding his head and crying. Her mother tells you that the around-the-clock ibuprofen has barely touched his 2-day headache.
After determining that your patient has no neurologic deficits and that this is most likely a primary headache, what can you do to break his symptoms?