The Practice of Obtaining a Chest X-Ray in Pediatric Patients Presenting with Their First Episode of Wheezing in the Emergency Department: A Survey of Attending Physicians

Nishit H. Patel, Ameer Hassoun, Jennifer H. Chao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Background Routine use of chest X-ray (CXR) in pediatric patients presenting with their first episode of wheezing was recommended by many authors. Although recent studies conclude that a CXR is not routinely indicated in these children, there continues to be reports of overuse. Objective To examine the attitudes of practicing physicians in ordering CXRs in pediatric patients presenting with their first episode of wheezing to an emergency department (ED) and the factors that influence this practice by surveying ED physicians. Methods A survey targeting pediatric emergency medicine (PEM) and general emergency medicine attending physicians was distributed electronically to the nearly 3000 members of the PEM Brown listserve and the Pediatric Section of American College of Emergency Physicians listserve. The 14-item survey included closed ended and free text questions to assess the respondent's demographic characteristics, their belief and current practice of obtaining a CXR in pediatric patients presenting with their first episode of wheezing. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics and χ2 test. Results Of the 537 attending physicians who participated, their primary residency training was: 42% pediatrics, 54% emergency medicine, and 4% other. Seventy-two percent of participating physicians supervise residents, 54% were board-eligible or -certified in PEM. Thirty percent (95% confidence interval [CI], 26-34) of participants indicated that they would always obtain a CXR in pediatric patients presenting with their first episode of wheezing. Eighty-one percent (95% CI, 75-87) of those who always obtain a CXR believe that it is the standard of care. Of the 376 physicians who do not always obtain a CXR, 18% (95% CI, 15-23) always obtain a CXR under certain age (2 weeks to 12 years, median of 1 year). Physicians who report a primary residency in pediatrics, who supervise residents, who were board-eligible or -certified in PEM, and who were practicing for greater than 5 years were less likely to obtain a CXR (P < 0.001, P < 0.001, P < 0.001, P = 0.001). Conclusions In our study, a significant number of practicing ED physicians routinely obtain a CXR in children with their first episode of wheezing presenting to the ED. The factors influencing this practice are primary residency training, fellowship training, resident supervision, and years of independent practice. This identifies a target audience that would benefit from education to decrease the overuse of CXRs in children with wheezing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)16-20
Number of pages5
JournalPediatric emergency care
Volume36
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020

Keywords

  • chest X-ray
  • physicians
  • wheezing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Emergency Medicine

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