Joining Forces-the NEW ALL CHOA Emergency Department Newsletter

Welcome to the new newsletter including ALL Emergency Departments of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. This newsletter now includes collaboration from the Emergency Department of Scottish Rite. The information included in this newsletter combines the efforts of the two largest groups of pediatric emergency medicine physicians in the Atlanta Metro area.  The Division of Pediatric Emergency Medicine at Emory University and Pediatric Emergency Medicine Associates (PEMA). Emory Physicians staff the Hughes Spalding and Egleston EDs while PEMA physicians staff Scottish Rite and 7 other pediatric emergency departments throughout the metro area including one hospital in Chattanooga, Tennessee.  We are continuing to expand our outreach and collaborative efforts to all metro Atlanta area physicians who care for children including Emergency Medicine, Pediatric and Family Medicine Physicians.  Please feel free to forward this newsletter link to your colleagues. Don’t hold onto this valuable information pass it on. Sometimes with growing and merging  we can experience some delays thus we recognize this newsletter is delayed in publication.  Stay tuned in the next few months as our website will move to a new location and we will be offering continuing medical education.  Also check out this article on Medbytes-Partnering to Improve Pediatric Emergency Medicine Care here is the link that is accessible to those with md portal access-


Please enjoy this quarter’s newsletter articles on summer safety tips and new  information on the effects of acetaminophen. Finally, see below the history of PEM (Pediatric Emergency Medicine) in Atlanta including the history of Emory Pediatric Emergency Medicine and Pediatric Emergency Medicine Associates.


The Story of Pediatric Emergency Medicine in Atlanta

By Thuy Bui

By Wendy Little









Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta is one of the largest and busiest pediatric healthcare systems in the United States. The three CHOA emergency departments collectively encounter over 220,000 visits per year and the hospitals, with their full complement of pediatric subspecialty providers, care for some of the sickest and most medically complex patients in the state and the region.

While specialized pediatric healthcare in Atlanta dates back to the early 1900s, there were no pediatric emergency departments and no pediatric emergency specialists in Atlanta until the mid-1980’s.  The growth of emergency medical care for children in Atlanta over the past 30 years has been phenomenal!

The first children’s hospital in Atlanta, Scottish Rite Convalescent Home for Crippled Children, opened its doors in 1915. Key movers behind this included orthopedic surgeon Dr. Michael Hoke (the hospital’s first medical director), philanthropist Mrs. “Bertie” Wardlaw, real estate developer Mr. Forrest Adair and the Scottish Rite Masons.  The hospital started out as two rented cottages in Decatur with 20 beds and became a full medical building housing 50 beds in 1919.  The medical facility stayed in Decatur until 1976 when it moved to its current seven-acre site in North Atlanta and became Scottish Rite Children’s Hospital.

The Henrietta Egleston Hospital for Children was founded in 1928.  Thomas R. Egleston Jr, a wealthy Atlantan, left money in his will for the founding of a children’s hospital to be named after his mother, Henrietta Egleston. The first Egleston hospital was located in Atlanta on what is now Ralph Magill Avenue.  In 1956 , Emory University donated land for an expanded facility on the Emory campus, thus beginning the long-standing relationship between Emory University and Egleston. The “new” Egleston Children’s Hospital on Clifton Road opened in 1959.

Pediatric Emergency Medicine (PEM) is a relatively new specialty with the first fellowship established in 1980.  The first board subspecialty exam, a collaboration of the American Board of Pediatrics and American Board of Emergency Medicine, was administered in 1992.  In 1998, Pediatric Emergency Medicine Fellowship became an accredited specialty.  There are just over 1700 Pediatric Emergency Medicine board certified physicians in the country and 68 in the State of Georgia.

Pediatric emergency medicine became available to the children of Atlanta in 1984. Pediatric emergency medicine pioneer, Dr. Joseph Simon, opened Atlanta’s first freestanding pediatric emergency department at Scottish Rite. It was comprised of eight exam rooms with one trauma bay and staffed by a group of four pediatric trained physicians doing 24 hour shifts.  During its first full year of operation, the department saw 5,000 patients. That same year, Egleston opened its Acute Treatment Area. It had two exam rooms and a four bed holding area. It was initially open for 9 hours overnight on weekdays and 24 hours per day on weekends, and saw approximately 8800 patients per year.  Patients could not walkin to the facility, but had to be referred by a physician. A formal emergency department opened in 1988 with 24-hour physician coverage. In 1986, Egleston was designated as a pediatric trauma center with Scottish Rite receiving its designation the following year.

The Hughes Spalding Pavilion opened in 1952 as a private hospital on the campus of Grady Memorial Hospital. Until 1992, pediatric patients were first seen in a 24-hour walk-in clinic on the second floor of Grady, staffed mainly by Emory pediatric residents. Seeing over 60,000 patients per year, wait times were notoriously long, with patients routinely waiting over 12 hours to be seen.  In 1992 , Hughes Spalding was re-opened as a dedicated pediatric facility, including an emergency department consisting of a six-bed observation room, an asthma room with chairs to accommodate approximately 10 patients, three private emergency department rooms, an urgent care/clinic area and a single resuscitation room. In 2006, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta assumed clinical operations at Hughes Spalding.

In 1998, to help preserve and improve pediatric health care in the region, Scottish Rite Children’s Hospital and Egleston Children’s Healthcare System officially merged to become Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.  With its assumption of responsibility at Hughes Spalding Children’s Hospital in 2006, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta became one of the largest pediatric healthcare systems in the country.  Currently, the system’s three emergency departments (Egleston, Hughes Spalding, and Scottish Rite) manage more than 220,000 patient visits per year.

Each of the emergency departments has undergone major changes over the years. Today CHOA Egleston has 36 private patient rooms (including dedicated beds  for orthopedic and gynecologic care, as well as mental health rooms with video-monitoring capability) and four trauma bays, caring for more than 70,000 patients a year. In 2009,  CHOA Egleston became the first and only Level 1 Pediatric Trauma Center in the state of Georgia. Similarly CHOA Scottish Rite has 50 private patient rooms (including rooms dedicated for orthopedic and gynecologic care, and mental health rooms with video-monitoring capability) and four trauma bays. Designated as a Level 2 Pediatric Trauma Center, it now provides care for over 100,000 patients annually. CHOA Hughes Spalding underwent a major renovation in 2010. The updated facility includes a new emergency department with 32 private rooms (including rooms designated for orthopedic and gynecologic care, as well as mental health rooms with video-monitoring capability) and one resuscitation room, and provides care for more than 52,000 patients annually.

The variety of options and easy accessibility of pediatric emergency medicine care make Atlanta unique. This validates the need for all 3 Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta hospitals to collaborate and reach out to referring partners in the community and work together to improve children’s health in our community. The universal theme that joins us in our diversity of roles and practice is that we are dedicated to making all children better today and healthier tomorrow.


Childhood Injury

by Sarah Gard Lazarus


Childhood injury remains the number one cause of death for children ages 1 to 19 in the US. To address this problem, a multidisciplinary group of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta physicians and staff from the departments of trauma, emergency medicine, advocacy, and primary care came together to form Children’s Injury Prevention Program (CHIPP) in January 2016. CHIPP’s mission is to provide a multidisciplinary approach to reduce childhood injury, both unintentional and intentional in the greater Atlanta area through evidence-based injury prevention programs, research, education, and community outreach.  CHIPP is a CHOA-based organization that has grown rapidly as a pediatric injury prevention coalition since it’s inception and includes representatives from multiple specialties at all three of CHOA’s campuses.  In addition, CHIPP partners with Safe Kids, Georgia Department of Public Health, Center for Disease Control, Injury Prevention Research Center at Emory, and the Injury Free Coalition for Kids.

The coalition is doing active work in motor vehicle safety, safe sleep, non-accidental trauma, and recently received a grant to establish a Safety Store at the Scottish Rite campus. This store will provide low-cost safety equipment, including car seats, bike helmets, and smoke detectors to families of patients. An injury prevention specialist will staff the store, and also work as a car seat technician, able to inspect car seats that were purchased on site.

As summer continues, CHIPP thanks you for reminding families of the following safety information and tips:

– Drowning is the leading cause of injury death in children ages 1 through 4

-Nothing is as effective as one-on-one supervision in drowning prevention: stay within arms reach

-If you have a pool, make sure that there is a four-sided fence surrounding it. The fence should be at least four feet tall and should have a lock on it.

-Consider taking a CPR and first-aid class

-At parties, appoint a parent as the designated “watcher”. This person should abstain form drinking, not have their phone in hand, and keep their focus on the children in the pool. They should wear a sign that establishes them as the “Water Watcher”

-Empty collapsible baby pools after each use. Children can drown in as little as an inch of water

-Anytime you go to a beach or the lake, place your child in a life jacket

Thank you for keeping children safe in our community!

Acetaminophen, Asthma, ADHD and Autism: At what point do we change our practice?

By Claudia Morris

Acetaminophen (APAP, Tylenol) is the most commonly dispensed medication in the United States, representing 5% of all treatments, and is generally used to alleviate pain and/or fever. Most agree that treating pain is important, however, treatment to reduce fever is not “medically necessary”. Fever is an evolutionarily conserved natural protective mechanism to fight infection, yet unfounded fever phobia is common among parents and practitioners. This creates an ideal market for antipyretics like acetaminophen, the drug of choice for fever in young children. Originally marketed internationally in the 1950s, its use increased significantly in the 1980s due to concerns of aspirin use and Reye’s syndrome. However nearly 20 years ago, new concerns were raised about the safety of acetaminophen and its potential link to asthma1, including a case-control study that suggested that frequent acetaminophen use in adults was associated with asthma, and among those who already had asthma, with more severe disease2. The mechanism for this association was thought to be the depletion of glutathione in the lung, leading to greater oxidative stress3,4. With asthma prevalence increasing world-wide, this concern leads to more than a decade of observational research on acetaminophen use and asthma in adults, children and pregnant women, with over 2500 publications now in the literature on this topic5-19. A 2009 meta-analysis that considered all clinical and observational studies at the time, ultimately including 425,140 subjects, found a pooled odds ratio for asthma in patients using acetaminophen to be 1.6 [1.46-1.77], increased risk of asthma with prenatal acetaminophen use, and an increased risk of asthma and wheezes in both children and adults exposed to acetaminophen, with a dose-dependent response noted in many studies12. Some experts in the field have begun to take a stand: Dr. Holgate wrote “There is now overwhelming evidence establishing a link between APAP and asthma20, while Dr. McBride stated in Pediatrics “In my opinion, the balance between the likely risks and benefits of acetaminophen has shifted for children with a history or family history of asthma. I can understand how those responsible for regulation or policy statements of professional organizations might be more comfortable waiting for incontrovertible evidence. There remains a possibility that confounding variables might explain some or all of the association between APAP and asthma. For this reason, we need further studies. At present, however, I need further studies not to prove that APAP is dangerous but, rather, to prove that it is safe. Until such evidence is forthcoming I will recommend avoidance of APAP by all children with asthma or those at risk for asthma and will work to make patient’s, parents, and primary care providers aware of the possibility that APAP is detrimental to children with asthma”21. Fortunately, some reassurance was recently provided by Sheehan and colleagues, in the Acetaminophen versus Ibuprofen in Children with Asthma (AVICA) trial, a 48-week prospective, blinded, randomized controlled trial that compared the as–needed use of acetaminophen with that of ibuprofen for fever or pain in 300 children 12-59 months of age with mild-persistent asthma receiving treatment with asthma controller therapies. The investigators did not find any significant difference in the primary outcome of asthma exacerbations leading to treatment with systemic glucocorticoids or in any of the secondary outcomes between the two groups, suggesting no greater risk of asthma exacerbation with acetaminophen use compared to ibuprofen22,23. However, the AVICA trial does not address whether acetaminophen use can lead to the development of asthma in otherwise healthy children, nor whether it is associated with worsening of symptoms in children with moderate to severe asthma. Questions and clinical equipoise remain. Several large epidemiologic studies linking acetaminophen use in pregnancy and ADHD 24-26 warrant further investigation. Recent studies identifying an association of ADHD with asthma and allergies 27-30 may foreshadow a potentially unrecognized mechanistic overlap between these conditions. Epidemiologic studies linking maternal use of acetaminophen during pregnancy to increased risk of autism gives further pause 31-34. A small study linking acetaminophen but not ibuprofen use with MMR, and autism, may warrant the discouragement of acetaminophen use during vaccination until more information is available35,36.

According to a 2007 CDC report, acetaminophen is responsible for approximately 56,000 emergency department visits, 26,000 hospitalizations, and over 450 deaths per year. Now, large epidemiologic studies have found an association with acetaminophen use and asthma as well as ADHD and autism. Although a causal relationship cannot be assumed based on the current literature, more studies of safety are needed. In the meantime, just like cold medicines and antibiotic overuse, the risks of acetaminophen need to be reassessed. I personally echo the sentiments of Dr. McBride, and have changed my practice in pediatric emergency medicine. Fever is your friend. It is a physiologic mechanism with benefits. Worried caregivers need reassurance to combat fever phobia and education on appropriate use of antipyretics. Treat misery and discomfort rather than a cut-off temperature. Alternatives to acetaminophen may also be considered, however all medications have risks that need to be weighed against their true benefits.      


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