Examining the Appropriateness and Motivations behind Low-Acuity Pediatric Emergency Department Visits

Maya Haasz, Daniel Ostro, Dennis Scolnik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Scopus citations


Objectives High patient volumes have a deleterious effect on care in the pediatric emergency department (PED). Our study assessed the motivation for PED visits that could have been assessed by a primary care physician. Methods We identified a convenience sample of patients presenting to the SickKids Hospital PED in June and July 2011 with a Paediatric Canadian Triage and Acuity Score 4 or 5. Patients completed a forced answer yes/no survey describing potential motivators for visiting the PED. Visit appropriateness was determined by a modified version of the DeAngelis tool, an explicit criteria-based tool frequently used for this purpose. Results Of the included 635 patients with Paediatric Canadian Triage and Acuity Score 4 and 5, 25% were truly inappropriate as per DeAngelis criteria. Of these, perceived expertise at the tertiary care hospital (93.1%) and ease of getting tests (80.8%) were the most common reasons behind PED presentation. Conclusions Patients presenting to our PED typically have primary care physicians; however, access to their physicians during off-hours and availability of off-site testing is limited. Public policy aimed at decreasing overcrowding in the PED should address these themes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)647-649
Number of pages3
JournalPediatric Emergency Care
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1 2018
Externally publishedYes



  • inappropriate presentations
  • overcrowding

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Emergency Medicine

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