For Bronchiolitis, Less is More


By Shabnam Jain

By Shabnam Jain


Bronchiolitis is a self-limited, viral lower respiratory tract infection that affects infants and young children.  It is the most common cause of hospital admission in infants in the US. In 2014, the American Academy of Pediatrics published a clinical practice guideline (CPG) entitled The Diagnosis, Management, and Prevention of Bronchiolitis.(1)   The CPG excludes infants under 1 month of age, those with hemodynamically significant cardiac disease, significant pulmonary disease, or major chronic conditions. Based on this CPG, in 2015 the AAP Section on Emergency Medicine developed a clinical algorithm for bronchiolitis in the ED setting, addressing some newer therapies that can be considered in severe or undifferentiated presentations. (2) It also offers criteria for which patients can be discharged from the ED and may be helpful for primary care providers in making decisions on whom to refer to the ED. Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta has its own guidelines as well. (3)  These resources may be useful for the generally healthy infant with bronchiolitis with the following recommendations applicable to pediatric outpatient practice:


  1. Diagnosis and severity assessment is made on the basis of history and physical exam and assessment of risk factors. Routine chest X-rays and RSV testing are not recommended. 
  2. Management: Albuterol may improve respiratory score (subjective), but has no effect on clinical course, disease resolution, admission, or length of stay.  It does however, increase adverse effects (tremors, tachycardia) which outweighs any small potential benefits. Albuterol is not recommended for routine use in bronchiolitis.  Furthermore, there is no benefit from routine use of epinephrine in inpatients or outpatient settings. Epinephrine may be used as a rescue agent in severe disease.  Finally, steroids have no role in the management of bronchiolitis.
  3. Oxygen and Pulse oximetry: There is poor correlation between respiratory distress and oxygen sats.  Transient hypoxemia is common in bronchiolitis; pulse oximetry has been associated with perceived need for admission and is a primary determinant of inpatient LOS. Providers may choose not to give O2 if sats >90%  and may choose not to use continuous pulse oximetry
  4. Antibiotics are not indicated unless there is a concomitant bacterial infection.


Patients who meet the following are generally considered appropriate for discharge home:

  • Room air sats consistently ≥ 90% while awake or >88% while asleep
  • Able to handle secretions or need bulb suctioning only
  • Adequate activity & hydration
  • Parents able to follow-up with PCP within 48 hours or access emergency care if needed


For the previously healthy, mild to moderate bronchiolitis patient, the current strategy is: Don’t just do something, stand there!


  1. Ralston SL, Lieberthal AS, Meissner HC, et al. Clinical Practice Guideline: The Diagnosis, Management, and Prevention of Bronchiolitis. Pediatrics. 2014;134(5):e1474–e1502 – October 01, 2015.
  2. Jain S, Stack A, Baskin M, et al. Clinical Algorithm for Bronchiolitis in the Emergency Department Setting
  3. Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (Clinical Excellence page).

Fever, Viral Symptoms and Testing for Viruses



by Becky Burger, MD

As we approach respiratory viral season, we wanted to share our emergency department guideline for performing viral testing via the Respiratory Viral Panel (RVP) test. The RVP is a nasal swab test that detects viruses including influenza, RSV, and several other viruses. The turnaround time for the RVP result is between one and three hours. We have found that these tests sometimes delay disposition and often don’t change management of the patient in the ED. Our quality improvement committee developed the guidance below to optimize RVP testing in the ED.   Please note that we do not perform the new molecular rapid influenza test in the emergency departments at Children’s.

For ED patients being discharged home:

  • RVP usually not indicatedHealthy patients with viral symptoms.   This is because of the following reasons:
  • Prolonged positivity of RVPs from prior illnesses (unrelated to current symptoms)
  • Multiple positives
  • False sense of security
  • Management can usually be based on clinical grounds (e.g. treating influenza in high-flu season)
  • RVP may be done on a case-by-case basisPatients with underlying chronic medical condition, or patients in the age range 4-8 week old with fever etc. where a positive test may change management– in such instances, RVP is helpful only if we wait for result of the test for further decision making such as extent of work up, admission vs. discharge, etc.

For ED patients who require admission:

  • RVP indicatedImmunocompromised patients (such as transplants and certain chronic medical conditions) and other patients at high risk for complications of infection.
  • RVP usually not necessaryImmunocompetent patients (with or without chronic medical problems) – inpatient team may choose to order it themselves if desired.
  • All inpatient rooms at Children’s are private rooms so we don’t need to use RVPs for cohorting purposes.  Also, all respiratory illness patients need appropriate infection control precautions regardless of the result of the RVP.

We do not recommend referral to the emergency department just for RVP testing in well appearing children who have symptoms consistent with viral respiratory infection. For patients with symptoms concerning for influenza who are at higher risk (based on age, severity, or underlying medical conditions), treatment with antiviral medications can be started without the need for lab confirmation of influenza, (particularly during high flu prevalence).

If you have any questions about RVP testing, feel free to contact: Becky Burger, MD,

Zika virus: Overview and Testing


By Jacob Beniflah

By now you have undoubtedly heard from both patients and the media about Zika virus. The information out there can be confusing and contradictory. With the help of the CDC, we will give a general overview.

Zika virus is spread primarily by the Aedes species mosquito which is mostly a daytime biter but also bites at night. Active Zika virus transmission has been confirmed in all of North America (except Canada), Central America, South America and the Caribbean. The US has, as of 8/31, reported 35 locally spread cases (all in 2 areas of Miami-Dade country) and 2686 travel-associated cases.

Infection with Zika virus can be completely asymptomatic. If a patient shows symptoms they are usually mild and include fever, rash, joint pain, conjunctivitis, muscle pain, and headaches. Most people will only have symptoms for a few days to a week. Long term effects include a known risk of birth defects. Currently, a strong association between Guillain-Barre and Zika virus is being researched but nothing is conclusive yet.

Zika virus should be suspected in an infant or child who has traveled or lived in an affected area within the past 2 weeks and have 2 or more of the following: fever, rash, conjunctivitis, or arthralgia.

Testing at this time is only done thru the Georgia Department of Health (GDH). CHOA does not do in-house testing and will send samples to the GDH. A provider wishing to send testing must first call the GDH’s Epidemiology section for an approval code. During the day call 404-657-2588 or after-hours at 770-578-4104.

There is no current treatment for Zika. Treatment is with standard supportive care but the CDC recommends avoiding NSAIDs such as aspirin or ibuprofen until Dengue has been ruled out.







Kids shooting kids: Today’s reality and empowering parents with the ASK campaign


by Sofia Chaudhary

A 2-year old child has wandered into his parent’s bedroom and found an unlocked, loaded gun hidden in the top nightstand drawer.  Seconds later a shot is fired and the parent runs into the room to find their child lifeless.  As pediatricians we have all heard or encountered a similar story- all involving a child having access to an unlocked, loaded firearm.  According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, around 40% of homes with children in the US have a gun with an average of one child under age 10 being killed or disabled by a gun every other day (Pediatrics 2016-1).  In 2014 firearm injury was the 2nd leading cause of injury death in ages 15-19, 4th leading cause for ages 5-9 and 10-14, and 8th leading cause for ages 1-4 (CDC-2016-2).  Although mortality rates are high there is a larger rapid rise of unintentional pediatric injuries from firearms.  In a study reviewing an 8-month period of US pediatric firearm related injuries in 2014: two thirds were non-fatal, 50% of the victims were younger than 13 years of age, 25.3% younger than age 7, 84.3% were the child victims themselves or a family member/friend.  Of note 77% of events took place at the residence and 68% of the families  were the gun owners (J. Trauma Acute Care Surg. 2015-3).

Perhaps the most chilling recent headline from the Washington Post stated “Toddlers have shot at least 23 people this year.” Georgia was the top state with 8 listed self-inflicted shooting, with children ages 2 to 3 with hand guns all found within the home, parental purse, or vehicle (Washington Post-2016-4).  Many non-gun owner caregivers are not aware that there is indeed an accessible and loaded firearm in their home. In 2000, a study in Pediatrics found that in gun-owning homes with children, non-gun owners (87% women) reported significantly lower rates of a gun being stored loaded (7%) and unlocked (2%) in comparison to gun owners (21% loaded, 9% unlocked).  Those with a handgun were more likely to store it loaded and unlocked (Pediatrics-1999-5).  Parental perception of their child’s potential behavior around a firearm is also misleading.  In a survey published in Pediatrics 52% of the parent gun owners stored their firearms loaded or unlocked of which 75% believed that their 4 to 12-year-old child would be able to tell the difference between a toy gun and a real gun, and 23% thought that their child could be trusted with a loaded gun (Brady Center 2016-6)

In the US today 1.7 million children and teens live in a home with a loaded and unlocked gun (AAP-2016-7). One in every 25 admissions to pediatric trauma centers is due to a gunshot wound with major urban trauma centers reporting an increase of 300 percent in the number of pediatric gunshot wounds treated (AAP-2016-8).  Despite this national public health crises, in 2004 Congress banned the CDC from continuing gun violence related research and in 2011 the state of Florida passed a Privacy of Firearm Owners Act prohibiting pediatricians from asking patients and families about firearms in the home-this is currently under review and being appealed later this month.  As pediatricians our first priority is in providing developmentally appropriate advice on how parents can keep their child healthy and safe.  These safety measures include keeping medications out of reach, using appropriate car passenger seats according to age, vaccinating their children, wearing protective helmets when riding wheeled objects, and keeping guns locked and out of reach with the ammunition stored separately.   An AAP policy statement from 2012 reiterates the safest measure to prevent firearm related injuries being the absence of guns from homes and that pediatrician counseling on safe gun storage practices has shown significant reduction in injury. On June 21st the AAP is joining the Brady Campaign and asking parents to ASK (Asking Saves Kids) to save lives.  This campaign is asking parents to ask if there is an unlocked gun where their child plays.  It is encouraging parents to ask these questions as they would discuss other topics for a playdate such as supervision, TV/internet access, or food allergies.  I encourage each and every one of you to not only continue to ASK your patient’s families about firearm storage practices in their homes but also that they in turn ASK their kid’s playmates.

For more information for parents on firearm safety please visit:



  1. American Academy of Pediatrics. Reduce the Risk of Gun Injury. Available at: Accessed: April 27, 2016.
  2. WISQARS. Center for Disease Control. Injury Prevention and Control: National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), National Vital Statistics System. 10 Leading Causes of Injury Deaths by Age Group Highlighting Violence- Related Injury Deaths, United States- 2014. Available at: Accessed: June 1, 2016.
  3.  Faulkenberry J, Schaechter J. Reporting on pediatric unintentional firearm injury-Who’s responsible.  J. Trauma Acute Care Surg. 2015 79 (3): S2-S8.
  4. The Washington Post. Toddlers have shot at least 23 people this year. Posted May 1, 2016. Available at:  Accessed: May 27, 2016.Azrael D, Miller M, Hemenway D.  Are Household Firearms Stored Safely? It Depends on Whom You Ask. Pediatrics. 2000; 106 (3).
  5. Farah M, Simon H, Kellerman A. Firearm in the Home: Parental Perceptions. Pediatrics. 1999; 104 (5): 1059-1063.
  6. Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence. Keeping Kids and Families Safe. Available at: Accessed: March 27, 2016. 
  7. American Academy of Pediatrics. Handguns in the Home. Available at Accessed: May 27, 2016.
  8. American Academy of Pediatrics. Council on Injury, Violence, and Poison Prevention Executive Committee. AAP policy statement.  Firearm-related injuries affecting the pediatric population. November 2012; 130 (5)




ED Guidelines on Child Sex Trafficking and Exploitation

Greenbaum 2014

by Jordan Greenbaum, MD

The number of cases of suspected sex trafficking seen in Children’s emergency departments (ED) is steadily rising.  This is largely due to improved recognition by law enforcement and the implementation of a community protocol that directs authorities to bring newly identified victims to a Children’s emergency department for immediate medical evaluation.  Between 2014 and 2015, 92 medical exams were completed in the 3 EDs.  In response to the increased awareness of this vulnerable group of youth, Children’s has implemented guidelines for recognizing and responding to suspected cases of child sex trafficking and exploitation.  The guidelines are the product of a multidisciplinary collaboration between providers at the Stephanie Blank Center for Safe and Healthy Children (SVB), and staff from a variety of Children’s departments, including the multiple EDs. Along with a comprehensive overview of sex trafficking, including definitions, potential indicators and detailed instructions on making reports to authorities, the guidelines provide flow diagrams for recognizing and responding to suspected cases.

In the Emergency Departments, providers are asked to consider the possibility of sex trafficking if a child > 11 years old presents with chief complaints of:

  • Vaginal or penile discharge
  • Requests for STI or pregnancy testing
  • Intoxication or ingestion
  • Suicide attempt
  • Clearance exam for the Division of Family and Children’s Services (DFCS)
  • Acute sexual assault

OR, child has

  • History of running away from home
  • An injury that is suspicious for being inflicted

If these or other concerns are noted, staff should request a social work consult.  The social worker will use the Short Screen for Child Sex Trafficking (also included in guidelines) to further assess for possible victimization.  If staff continues to have concerns, they should contact the Child Protection team by calling the Transfer Center.  A trained nurse practitioner from the SVB Center is available anytime of day to come to the ED to conduct a medical evaluation.  Social work will contact law enforcement, DFCS and Georgia Cares.  The latter is an organization that serves as the entry point for services for child trafficking victims.  Upon notification, staff from Georgia Cares will begin an evaluation and work with authorities to determine post-discharge housing, and further referrals.

Should a child protection on-call nurse practitioner not be available, the guidelines include detailed discussions related to issues of confidentiality and assent, obtaining a medical history and prepping interpreters.  The medical exam protocol is also included, as are STI prophylaxis and HIV PEP guidelines. In addition, the on-call child protection team physician is available for phone consultation at anytime at 404-785-DOCS.



A review of a few good applications (apps)



By Connie Gong (

Over the years, doctors have gone from carrying fat medical books to PDAs to mobile devices to house the rapidly growing medical information that we are responsible for knowing. As a pediatric emergency medicine

(PEM) physicians at Emory, we carry our own personal “medical consultants” on my phone. In this 3-part series, we will be covering the many apps, websites, and blogs that area available to the general public and provides the latest evidence based medicine (EBM) in PEM.

Today, we’ll be discussing applications or “apps.” There are so many available, many covering similar topics. Ultimately you need to pick your favorites. All applications can be found on iphone or android platforms. Continue reading

The story of Pediatric Emergency Medicine at Emory University and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston and Hughes Spalding


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 200,000 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! Continue reading

Simple Abscess Clinical Practice Guideline



By Rebecca Burger (

In the emergency department we implemented a simple abscess Clinical Practice Guideline (CPG) almost one year ago. Here is some key information about the CPG and about loops.

Which patients require I&D in the ED?

Abscess ≥ 1cm in diameter. Smaller abscesses may be lanced with a scapel after LMX is applied.

Continue reading

CHOA Diversion Policy-Reminder and Updates

I hope that the winter season is going well for you.  We all know this is our busiest season of the year.  I just wanted to update you all about winter related changes.

Due to the high volume of patients we are currently seeing in our Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Hospitals we are currently on a diversion for patients aged 15 and older who have not previously established care with one of our clinics. If your patient presents to the ED without a referral and they are over 15 they will be evaluated.  We have an agreement with Dekalb Medical Center who has agreed to accept patients of this age for admission.

As always if you have a patient who is under the age of 15 and you would like to send them to CHOA to be seen please call the transfer center at 404-785-7778 and update them on your concerns and evaluation recommendations. Please always take the time to call the transfer center if you are referring a patient this helps us to identify your concerns and alleviates the confusion when families say my pediatrician sent me but are unclear of the reason why. If you are a pediatrician and would like to speak with an pediatric emergency medicine physician you can also upon request be transferred to one of us. If you would like a call back please specifically indicate that to the transfer center and give a number that is reliably answered such as a cell phone number or backline number.


  • Our PEMCONNECT newsletter will be published quarterly from this point on.
  • We will send email updates via our ED outreach listserve
  • In an effort to obtain important information about community pediatric practices please look out for an email survey via the listserve in the new year-2016!

Have a blessed holiday season and Happy New Year.  We hope to visit more of your practices and Emergency Departments next year.

Baby it’s cold outside!” – A look at Winter Safety and Injury Prevention


By Sofia Chaudhary

As the temperature drops and winter sets in, let’s remind families to keep their children safe.
Carbon monoxide-The invisible gas that kills
According to the CDC, there are around 15,000 ED visits and 500 deaths annually due to unintentional, non-fire related carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning.  There is a steep rise of these incidents during the months of November to February every year. These CO poisonings can be easily prevented with proper vehicle, appliance, and heating system maintenance along with education on correct usage of heating and cooking devices.  The National Poison Data System shows that the home is the primary site for carbon monoxide exposure with the second most common site being the workplace. Children in comparison to adults can develop carbon monoxide poisoning more rapidly due to faster respiratory rates and increased oxygen utilization.
So what happens when one inhales this odorless, tasteless gas? In brief, CO rapidly crosses our body’s capillary membrane and displaces one oxygen molecule from hemoglobin, binding more than 200 times as strong to the hemoglobin and reducing the ability of the remaining oxygen molecules to be released.  Oxygen delivery to peripheral tissues is reduced. In addition, CO can disrupt cellular respiration, worsening oxygen utilization and displaces nitrous oxide from proteins causing vasodilation.  The CDC reports that an elevated carboxyhemoglobin (COHb) level of 2% in a nonsmoker and 10% in a smoker suggests CO poisoning.  The clinical status of a patient, however, is a more accurate depiction of the severity of illness after CO exposure.  The most common symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headaches, dizziness, nausea, or vomiting and can often be misdiagnosed as a viral illness.  Infants may present with fussiness or irritability.  More severe poisoning and prolonged exposures can cause confusion, ataxia, altered mental status, coma, arrhythmias, myocardial ischemia or infarction, lactic acidosis, metabolic acidosis, acute renal failure, or non-cardiogenic pulmonary edema.
Prevention strategies for CO poisoning:
• Install carbon monoxide detectors with a back up battery on every level in your home, at least 15 feet away from fuel burning appliances.  Be sure to have one near all separate sleeping areas.
• Check your CO detectors twice a year, when you change your clocks in the spring and fall.  Remember these detectors do not take the place of your smoke alarms- you can often find dual detectors.
• If the CO alarm goes off exit the home immediately and call for help.
• Do not use charcoal grills, generators, camping stove, gasoline powered tools or pressure washers inside the house, the garage, or near the windows. Generators should be outside and 20 feet away from all windows, doors, and vents.
• Have water heater, gas clothes dryer, and gas stove serviced by a technician once a year or as recommended by manufacturer.  All vents for these appliances should be kept clear and free from debris.
• Have heating system/furnace checked annually and make sure the pilot light is working properly.  Have the chimney for fireplaces cleared and checked annually to prevent debris buildup with subsequent CO retention.
•Do not keep your car running inside the garage, even if the garage door is open.  Have your car’s vehicle emission system checked annually.
•Do not use your gas stove to warm the house.
Treatment of CO poisoning starts with removal from source of CO.  Supportive care is given in the ER with 100% oxygen non-rebreather mask until the patient is symptom free, usually after 4 to 5 hours.   Contact poison control to report incident and receive additional support. Labs are drawn to check COHb level and lactate level (for closed house fires), and EKG for severe poisonings. Elevated lactic acid levels > 10 mmol/L correlates with elevated cyanide levels and cyanide antidotes should be given. Patients with altered mental status or presenting in a coma are intubated and given 100% oxygen.  Hyperbaric oxygen is reserved for severe CO poisonings, those presenting with altered mental status, loss of consciousness, COHb levels of 25-30%, showing signs of cardiac disease, or with acidosis.  Of note, discharged patients are given instructions to be aware of delayed neurological presentations up to 48 hours after initial exposure and are asked to follow up with PCP 2 weeks after initial exposure for repeat physical and neurologic exam. (Figure 1)

How much is too much?

Bundling kids this winter while riding and resting, we all have worn those “poofy” winter jackets growing up or my ultimate favorite, the bunny suit! Unfortunately, most parents are not aware that what may keep their child warm may also cause injury when worn while sitting in a car seat or booster seat.  The issue lies with the ability of these coats and jackets to be compressed when there is an impact and thus creating space between the child and seat belt harness.  This additional space can propel the child forward causing additional external and internal injury in addition to some children falling out of the harness itself.   Coats and jackets should be removed upon placing a child in a car or booster seat.  It is safe to wear sweatshirts and sweaters that children would wear while playing indoors or place a blanket or jacket on child’s lap away from face and over seatbelt.  To make sure that the car seat straps are not too loose over the child’s body, parents should do the pinch test.  With the harness pulled tight and the chest clip at the level of the armpit pinch the strap with the thumb and index finger at the level of the collarbone (see below-Figure 2).  If the strap webs in between the thumb and index then the straps are too loose, if no webbing then the straps are tight enough.  If parents want to do the pinch test with thin jackets or to check the safety of their child’s outer layers they should tighten the harness with the outer layer on then remove outer layer and buckle the child again doing the pinch test to see if any extra space was created by this outer layer.
Parents of newborns and infants may want to bundle their little ones in thick blankets or wraps to stay warm.  Unfortunately as we know this can increase the risk for suffocation by direct obstruction or by reducing air flow in the space around child’s mouth and nose. A newborn has a tidal volume of approximately one ounce-leaving very little reserve. Parents should be reminded to place their child on their backs on a firm crib mattress with a tight fitted sheet without any additional items in the crib including stuffed animals or bumpers.  Sleep sacks are a snug fitting and safe option for babies to keep warm.  We also see a rise of suffocation or SIDS during these cold months from co-sleeping.  Parents may not realize that it is not only rolling over their child that can cause suffocation but even if something as simple as their arm falling onto the babies face.  One option may be to have the crib in the same room as parent if they want to stay close or to use a pack and play in the room with a newborn top mattress section so that it is easy access for mother to reach over to pick up her child.  Enjoy the holiday and winter season we hope these few reminders can help you keep your patients and families safe!




(Figure 1-Source CDC)


(Figure-2 Pinch Test-SAFEKIDS.ORG)