Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

Department of Emergency Medicine

Research Publications

Following is information on recent faculty publications. For more information on our research, see the Emergency Medicine section on Northwestern Scholars.

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Emergency Department Provider Perspectives on Benzodiazepine-Opioid Co-Prescribing: A Qualitative Study.

Kim HS, McCarthy DM, Hoppe JA, Courtney DM, Lambert BL

Acad Emerg Med. 2017 Aug 9. doi: 10.1111/acem.13273. [Epub ahead of print]


Benzodiazepines and opioids are prescribed simultaneously (i.e. "co-prescribed") in many clinical settings, despite guidelines advising against this practice and mounting evidence that concomitant use of both medications increases overdose risk. This study sought to characterize the contexts in which benzodiazepine-opioid co-prescribing occurs and providers' reasons for co-prescribing.


We conducted focus groups with ED providers (resident and attending physicians, advanced practice providers, and pharmacists) from three hospitals using semi-structured interviews to elicit perspectives on benzodiazepine-opioid co-prescribing. Discussions were audio-recorded and transcribed. We performed qualitative content analysis of the resulting transcripts using a consensual qualitative research approach, aiming to identify priority categories that describe the phenomenon of benzodiazepine-opioid co-prescribing.


Participants acknowledged co-prescribing rarely and reluctantly, and often provided specific discharge instructions when co-prescribing. The decision to co-prescribe is multifactorial, often isolated to specific clinical and situational contexts (e.g. low back pain, failed solitary opioid therapy) and strongly influenced by a provider's beliefs about the efficacy of combination therapy. The decision to co-prescribe is further influenced by a self-imposed pressure to escalate care or avoid hospital admission. When considering potential interventions to reduce the incidence of co-prescribing, participants opposed computerized alerts but were supportive of a pharmacist-assisted intervention. Many providers found the process of participating in peer discussions on prescribing habits to be beneficial.


In this qualitative study of ED providers, we found that benzodiazepine-opioid co-prescribing occurs in specific clinical and situational contexts, such as the treatment of low back pain or failed solitary opioid therapy. The decision to co-prescribe is strongly influenced by a provider's beliefs and by self-imposed pressure to escalate care or avoid admission. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Antibiotic Prescribing for Adults Hospitalized in the Etiology of Pneumonia in the Community Study.

Tomczyk S, Jain S, Bramley AM, Self WH, Anderson EJ, Trabue C, Courtney DM, Grijalva CG, Waterer GW, Edwards KM, Wunderink RG, Hicks LA

Open Forum Infect Dis. 2017 Jun 20;4(2):ofx088. doi: 10.1093/ofid/ofx088. eCollection 2017 Spring.


Community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) 2007 guidelines from the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA)/American Thoracic Society (ATS) recommend a respiratory fluoroquinolone or beta-lactam plus macrolide as first-line antibiotics for adults hospitalized with CAP. Few studies have assessed guideline-concordant antibiotic use for patients hospitalized with CAP after the 2007 IDSA/ATS guidelines. We examine antibiotics prescribed and associated factors in adults hospitalized with CAP.


From January 2010 to June 2012, adults hospitalized with clinical and radiographic CAP were enrolled in a prospective Etiology of Pneumonia in the Community study across 5 US hospitals. Patients were interviewed using a standardized questionnaire, and medical charts were reviewed. Antibiotics prescribed were classified according to defined nonrecommended CAP antibiotics. We assessed factors associated with nonrecommended CAP antibiotics using logistic regression.


Among enrollees, 1843 of 1874 (98%) ward and 440 of 446 (99%) ICU patients received ≥1 antibiotic ≤24 hours after admission. Ward patients were prescribed a respiratory fluoroquinolone alone (n = 613; 33%), or beta-lactam plus macrolide (n = 365; 19%), beta-lactam alone (n = 240; 13%), among other antibiotics, including vancomycin (n = 235; 13%) or piperacillin/tazobactam (n = 157; 8%) ≤24 hours after admission. Ward patients with known risk for healthcare-associated pneumonia (HCAP), recent outpatient antibiotic use, and in-hospital antibiotic use <6 hours after admission were significantly more likely to receive nonrecommended CAP antibiotics.


Although more than half of ward patients received antibiotics concordant with IDSA/ATS guidelines, a number received nonrecommended CAP antibiotics, including vancomycin and piperacillin/tazobactam; risk factors for HCAP, recent outpatient antibiotic, and rapid inpatient antibiotic use contributed to this. This hypothesis-generating descriptive epidemiology analysis could help inform antibiotic stewardship efforts, reinforces the need to harmonize guidelines for CAP and HCAP, and highlights the need for improved diagnostics to better equip clinicians.

Effectiveness of Resident Physicians as Triage Liaison Providers in an Academic Emergency Department.

Weston V, Jain SK, Gottlieb M, Aldeen A, Gravenor S, Schmidt MJ, Malik S

West J Emerg Med. 2017 Jun;18(4):577-584. doi: 10.5811/westjem.2017.1.33243. Epub 2017 Apr 17.


Emergency department (ED) crowding is associated with detrimental effects on ED quality of care. Triage liaison providers (TLP) have been used to mitigate the effects of crowding. Prior studies have evaluated attending physicians and advanced practice providers as TLPs, with limited data evaluating resident physicians as TLPs. This study compares operational performance outcomes between resident and attending physicians as TLPs.


This retrospective cohort study compared aggregate operational performance at an urban, academic ED during pre- and post-TLP periods. The primary outcome was defined as cost-effectiveness based upon return on investment (ROI). Secondary outcomes were defined as differences in median ED length of stay (LOS), median door-to-provider (DTP) time, proportion of left without being seen (LWBS), and proportion of "very good" overall patient satisfaction scores.


Annual profit generated for physician-based collections through LWBS capture (after deducting respective salary costs) equated to a gain (ROI: 54%) for resident TLPs and a loss (ROI: -31%) for attending TLPs. Accounting for hospital-based collections made both profitable, with gains for resident TLPs (ROI: 317%) and for attending TLPs (ROI: 86%). Median DTP time for resident TLPs was significantly lower (p<0.0001) than attending or historical control. Proportion of "very good" patient satisfaction scores and LWBS was improved for both resident and attending TLPs over historical control. Overall median LOS was not significantly different.


Resident and attending TLPs improved DTP time, patient satisfaction, and LWBS rates. Both resident and attending TLPs are cost effective, with residents having a more favorable financial profile.

Oseltamivir Use Among Children and Adults Hospitalized With Community-Acquired Pneumonia.

Oboho IK, Bramley A, Finelli L, Fry A, Ampofo K, Arnold SR, Self WH, Williams DJ, Courtney DM, Zhu Y, Anderson EJ, Grijalva CG, McCullers JA, Wunderink RG, Pavia AT, Edwards KM, Jain S

Open Forum Infect Dis. 2016 Dec 27;4(1):ofw254. doi: 10.1093/ofid/ofw254. eCollection 2017 Winter.


Data on oseltamivir treatment among hospitalized community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) patients are limited.


Patients hospitalized with CAP at 6 hospitals during the 2010-2012 influenza seasons were included. We assessed factors associated with oseltamivir treatment using logistic regression.


Oseltamivir treatment was provided to 89 of 1627 (5%) children (<18 years) and 143 of 1051 (14%) adults. Among those with positive clinician-ordered influenza tests, 39 of 61 (64%) children and 37 of 48 (77%) adults received oseltamivir. Among children, oseltamivir treatment was associated with hospital A (adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 2.76; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.36-4.88), clinician-ordered testing performed (aOR, 2.44; 95% CI, 1.47-5.19), intensive care unit (ICU) admission (aOR, 2.09; 95% CI, 1.27-3.45), and age ≥2 years (aOR, 1.43; 95% CI, 1.16-1.76). Among adults, oseltamivir treatment was associated with clinician-ordered testing performed (aOR, 8.38; 95% CI, 4.64-15.12), hospitals D and E (aOR, 3.46-5.11; 95% CI, 1.75-11.01), Hispanic ethnicity (aOR, 2.06; 95% CI, 1.18-3.59), and ICU admission (aOR, 2.05; 95% CI, 1.34-3.13).


Among patients hospitalized with CAP during influenza season, oseltamivir treatment was moderate overall and associated with clinician-ordered testing, severe illness, and specific hospitals. Increased clinician education is needed to include influenza in the differential diagnosis for hospitalized CAP patients and to test and treat patients empirically if influenza is suspected.

Electronic medication complete communication strategy for opioid prescriptions in the emergency department: Rationale and design for a three-arm provider randomized trial.

McCarthy DM, Courtney DM, Lank PM, Cameron KA, Russell AM, Curtis LM, Kim KA, Walton SM, Montague E, Lyden AL, Gravenor SJ, Wolf MS

Contemp Clin Trials. 2017 Aug;59:22-29. doi: 10.1016/j.cct.2017.05.003. Epub 2017 May 4.


Thousands of people die annually from prescription opioid overdoses; however there are few strategies to ensure patients receive medication risk information at the time of prescribing.


To compare the effectiveness of the Emergency Department (ED) Electronic Medication Complete Communication (EMC2) Opioid Strategy (with and without text messaging) to promote safe medication use and improved patient knowledge as compared to usual care.


The ED EMC2 Opioid Strategy consists of 5 automated components to promote safe medication use: 1) physician reminder to counsel, 2) inbox message sent on to the patient's primary care physician, 3) pharmacist message on the prescription to counsel, 4) MedSheet supporting prescription information, and 5) patient-centered Take-Wait-Stop wording of prescription instructions. This strategy will be assessed both with and without the addition of text messages via a three-arm randomized trial. The study will take place at an urban academic ED (annual volume>85,000) in Chicago, IL. Patients being discharged with a new prescription for hydrocodone-acetaminophen will be enrolled and randomized (based on their prescribing physician). The primary outcome of the study is medication safe use as measured by a demonstrated dosing task. Additionally actual safe use, patient knowledge and provider counseling will be measured. Implementation fidelity as well as costs will be reported.


The ED EMC2 Opioid Strategy embeds a risk communication strategy into the electronic health record and promotes medication counseling with minimal workflow disruption. This trial will evaluate the strategy's effectiveness and implementation fidelity as compared to usual care.


This trial is registered on with identifier NCT02431793.

Unresponsive Male.

Kim HS, Ingalsbe GS, Lank PM

Ann Emerg Med. 2017 May;69(5):552-561. doi: 10.1016/j.annemergmed.2016.03.022.

Is there a clinically meaningful difference in patient reported dyspnea in acute heart failure? An analysis from URGENT Dyspnea.

Pang PS, Lane KA, Tavares M, Storrow AB, Shen C, Peacock WF, Nowak R, Mebazaa A, Laribi S, Hollander JE, Gheorghiade M, Collins SP

Heart Lung. 2017 Jul - Aug;46(4):300-307. doi: 10.1016/j.hrtlng.2017.03.003. Epub 2017 Apr 19.


Dyspnea is the most common presenting symptom in patients with acute heart failure (AHF), but is difficult to quantify as a research measure. The URGENT Dyspnea study compared 3 scales: (1) 10 cm VAS, (2) 5-point Likert, and (3) a 7-point Likert (both VAS and 5-point Likert were recorded in the upright and supine positions). However, the minimal clinically important difference (MCID) to patients has not been well established.


We performed a secondary analysis from URGENT Dyspnea, an observational, multi-center study of AHF patients enrolled within 1 h of first physician assessment in the ED. Using the anchor-based method to determine the MCID, a one-category change in the 7-point Likert was used as the criterion standard ('minimally improved or worse'). The main outcome measures were the change in visual analog scale (VAS) and 5-point Likert scale from baseline to 6-h assessment relative to a 1-category change response in the 7-point Likert scale ('minimally worse', 'no change', or 'minimally better').


Of the 776 patients enrolled, 491 had a final diagnosis of AHF with responses at both time points. A 10.5 mm (SD 1.6 mm) change in VAS was the MCID for improvement in the upright position, and 14.5 mm (SD 2.0 mm) in the supine position. However, there was no MCID for worsening, as few patients reported worse dyspnea. There was also no significant MCID for the 5-point Likert scale.


A 10.5 mm change is the MCID for improvement in dyspnea over 6 h in ED patients with AHF.

Use of Online Health Information by Geriatric and Adult Emergency Department Patients: Access, Understanding, and Trust.

Scott G, McCarthy DM, Aldeen AZ, Czerniak A, Courtney DM, Dresden SM

Acad Emerg Med. 2017 Jul;24(7):796-802. doi: 10.1111/acem.13207. Epub 2017 May 29.


The objective was to characterize geriatric patients' use of online health information (OHI) relative to younger adults and assess their comfort ith OHI compared to health information (HI) from their physician.


This was a prospective cross-sectional survey study of adult emergency department (ED) patients. The survey assessed patients' self-reported use of OHI in the past year and immediately prior to ED visit and analyzed differences across four age groups: 18-39, 40-64, 65-74, and 75+. Patients' ability to access, understand, and trust OHI was assessed using a 7-point Likert scale and compared to parallel questions regarding HI obtained from their doctor. Patient use of OHI was compared across age groups. Comfort with OHI and HI obtained from a doctor was compared across age groups using the Kruskal-Wallis test. Comparisons between sources of HI were made within age groups using the Wilcoxon signed-rank test.


Of 889 patients who were approached for study inclusion, 723 patients (81.3%) completed the survey. The majority of patients had used OHI in the past year in all age groups, but older patients were less likely to have used OHI: age 18-39, 90.3%; 40-64, 85.3%; 65-74, 76.4%; and 75+, 50.7% (p < 0.001). The youngest patients were most likely to have used OHI prior to coming to the ED, 47.1%, 28.3%, 17.1%, and 8.0% (p < 0.001). Older patients were more likely to have an established doctor-18-39, 79.4%; 40-64, 91.1%; 65-74, 97.5%; and 75+ 97.4% (p < 0.001)-and were more likely to have contacted their doctor prior to their ED visit: 36.7, 40.2, 46.7, and 53.5% (p = 0.02). The oldest patients were most likely to find HI more accessible from their doctor than the Internet, while the youngest patients found HI more accessible on the Internet than from their doctor. Regardless of age, patients noted that information from their physician was both easier to understand and more trustworthy than information found on the Internet.


Although many older patients used OHI, they were less likely than younger adults to use the Internet immediately prior to an ED visit. Despite often using OHI, patients of all age groups found healthcare information from their doctor easier to understand and more trustworthy than information from the Internet. As health systems work to efficiently provide information to patients, addressing these perceived deficiencies may be necessary to build effective OHI programs.

Procalcitonin as a Marker of Etiology in Adults Hospitalized with Community-Acquired Pneumonia.

Self WH, Balk RA, Grijalva CG, Williams DJ, Zhu Y, Anderson EJ, Waterer GW, Courtney DM, Bramley AM, Trabue C, Fakhran S, Blaschke AJ, Jain S, Edwards KM, Wunderink RG

Clin Infect Dis. 2017 Apr 12. doi: 10.1093/cid/cix317. [Epub ahead of print]


Recent trials suggest procalcitonin-based guidelines can reduce antibiotic use for respiratory infections. However, the accuracy of procalcitonin to discriminate between viral and bacterial pneumonia requires further dissection.


We evaluated the association between serum procalcitonin concentration at hospital admission with pathogens detected in a multicenter prospective surveillance study of adults hospitalized with community-acquired pneumonia. Systematic pathogen testing included cultures, serology, urine antigen tests, and molecular detection. Accuracy of procalcitonin to discriminate between viral and bacterial pathogens was calculated.


Among 1,735 patients, pathogens were identified in 645 (37%), including 169 (10%) with typical bacteria, 67 (4%) with atypical bacteria, and 409 (24%) with viruses only. Median procalcitonin concentration was lower with viral pathogens (0.09 ng/ml; interquartile range [IQR]: <0.05-0.54 ng/ml) than atypical bacteria (0.20 ng/ml; IQR: <0.05-0.87 ng/ml) [p=0.05], and typical bacteria (2.5 ng/ml; IQR: 0.29-12.2 ng/ml) [p<0.01]. Procalcitonin discriminated bacterial pathogens, including typical and atypical bacteria, from viral pathogens with an area under the receiver operating characteristic curve of 0.73 (95% CI: 0.69-0.77). A procalcitonin threshold of 0.1 ng/ml resulted in 80.9% (95% CI: 75.3%-85.7%) sensitivity and 51.6% (95% CI: 46.6%-56.5%) specificity for identification of any bacterial pathogen. Procalcitonin discriminated between typical bacteria and the combined group of viruses and atypical bacteria with an area under the receiver operating characteristic curve of 0.79 (95% CI: 0.75, 0.82).


No procalcitonin threshold perfectly discriminated between viral and bacterial pathogens, but higher procalcitonin strongly correlated with increased probability of bacterial pathogens, particularly typical bacteria.

Corrigendum to "The electronic medication complete communication (EMC2) study: Rationale and methods for a randomized controlled trial of a strategy to promote medication safety in ambulatory care" [Contemp. Clin. Trials (2016) 72-77].

Bailey SC, Paasche-Orlow MK, Adams WG, Brokenshire SA, Hedlund LA, Hickson RP, Oramasionwu CU, Moore AL, McCarthy DM, Curtis LM, Kwasny MJ, Wolf MS

Contemp Clin Trials. 2017 Jun;57:99. doi: 10.1016/j.cct.2017.03.002. Epub 2017 Mar 17.

Nuts and bolts of running a pulmonary embolism response team: results from an organizational survey of the National PERT™ Consortium members.

Barnes G, Giri J, Courtney DM, Naydenov S, Wood T, Rosovsky R, Rosenfield K, Kabrhel C, National PERT™ Consortium Research Committee

Hosp Pract (1995). 2017 Aug;45(3):76-80. doi: 10.1080/21548331.2017.1309954. Epub 2017 Mar 31.


Pulmonary embolism response teams (PERT) are developing rapidly to operationalize multi-disciplinary care for acute pulmonary embolism patients. Our objective is to describe the core components of PERT necessary for newly developing programs.


An online organizational survey of active National PERT™ Consortium members was performed between April and June 2016. Analysis, including descriptive statistics and Kruskal-Wallis tests, was performed on centers self-reporting a fully operational PERT program.


The survey response rate was 80%. Of the 31 institutions that responded (71% academic), 19 had fully functioning PERT programs. These programs were run by steering committees (17/19, 89%) more often than individual physicians (2/19, 11%). Most PERT programs involved 3-5 different specialties (14/19, 74%), which did not vary based on hospital size or academic affiliation. Of programs using multidisciplinary discussions, these occurred via phone or conference call (12/18, 67%), with a minority of these utilizing 'virtual meeting' software (2/12, 17%). Guidelines for appropriate activations were provided at 16/19 (84%) hospitals. Most PERT programs offered around-the-clock catheter-based or surgical care (17/19, 89%). Outpatient follow up usually occurred in personal physician clinics (15/19, 79%) or dedicated PERT clinics (9/19, 47%), which were only available at academic institutions.


PERT programs can be implemented, with similar structures, at small and large, community and academic medical centers. While all PERT programs incorporate team-based multi-disciplinary care into their core structure, several different models exist with varying personnel and resource utilization. Understanding how different PERT programs impact clinical care remains to be investigated.

Serial Procalcitonin Predicts Mortality in Severe Sepsis Patients: Results From the Multicenter Procalcitonin MOnitoring SEpsis (MOSES) Study.

Schuetz P, Birkhahn R, Sherwin R, Jones AE, Singer A, Kline JA, Runyon MS, Self WH, Courtney DM, Nowak RM, Gaieski DF, Ebmeyer S, Johannes S, Wiemer JC, Schwabe A, Shapiro NI

Crit Care Med. 2017 May;45(5):781-789. doi: 10.1097/CCM.0000000000002321.


To prospectively validate that the inability to decrease procalcitonin levels by more than 80% between baseline and day 4 is associated with increased 28-day all-cause mortality in a large sepsis patient population recruited across the United States.


Blinded, prospective multicenter observational clinical trial following an Food and Drug Administration-approved protocol.


Thirteen U.S.-based emergency departments and ICUs.


Consecutive patients meeting criteria for severe sepsis or septic shock who were admitted to the ICU from the emergency department, other wards, or directly from out of hospital were included.


Procalcitonin was measured daily over the first 5 days.


The primary analysis of interest was the relationship between a procalcitonin decrease of more than 80% from baseline to day 4 and 28-day mortality using Cox proportional hazards regression. Among 858 enrolled patients, 646 patients were alive and in the hospital on day 4 and included in the main intention-to-diagnose analysis. The 28-day all-cause mortality was two-fold higher when procalcitonin did not show a decrease of more than 80% from baseline to day 4 (20% vs 10%; p = 0.001). This was confirmed as an independent predictor in Cox regression analysis (hazard ratio, 1.97 [95% CI, 1.18-3.30; p < 0.009]) after adjusting for demographics, Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation II, ICU residence on day 4, sepsis syndrome severity, antibiotic administration time, and other relevant confounders.


Results of this large, prospective multicenter U.S. study indicate that inability to decrease procalcitonin by more than 80% is a significant independent predictor of mortality and may aid in sepsis care.

Supplemental Milestones for Emergency Medicine Residency Programs: A Validation Study.

Ketterer AR, Salzman DH, Branzetti JB, Gisondi MA

West J Emerg Med. 2017 Jan;18(1):69-75. doi: 10.5811/westjem.2016.10.31499. Epub 2016 Nov 15.


Emergency medicine (EM) residency programs may be 36 or 48 months in length. The Residency Review Committee for EM requires that 48-month programs provide educational justification for the additional 12 months. We developed additional milestones that EM training programs might use to assess outcomes in domains that meet this accreditation requirement. This study aims to assess for content validity of these supplemental milestones using a similar methodology to that of the original EM Milestones validation study.


A panel of EM program directors (PD) and content experts at two institutions identified domains of additional training not covered by the existing EM Milestones. This led to the development of six novel subcompetencies: "Operations and Administration," "Critical Care," "Leadership and Management," "Research," "Teaching and Learning," and "Career Development." Subject-matter experts at other 48-month EM residency programs refined the milestones for these subcompetencies. PDs of all 48-month EM programs were then asked to order the proposed milestones using the Dreyfus model of skill acquisition for each subcompetency. Data analysis mirrored that used in the original EM Milestones validation study, leading to the final version of our supplemental milestones.


Twenty of 33 subjects (58.8%) completed the study. No subcompetency or individual milestone met deletion criteria. Of the 97 proposed milestones, 67 (69.1%) required no further editing and remained at the same level as proposed by the study authors. Thirty milestones underwent level changes: 15 (15.5%) were moved one level up and 13 (13.4%) were moved one level down. One milestone (1.0%) in "Leadership and Management" was moved two levels up, and one milestone in "Operations and Administration" was moved two levels down. One milestone in "Research" was ranked by the survey respondents at one level higher than that proposed by the authors; however, this milestone was kept at its original level assignment.


Six additional subcompetencies were generated and assessed for content validity using the same methodology as was used to validate the current EM Milestones. These optional milestones may serve as an additional set of assessment tools that will allow EM residency programs to report these additional educational outcomes using a familiar milestone rubric.

Characterizing Teamwork in Cardiovascular Care Outcomes: A Network Analytics Approach.

Carson MB, Scholtens DM, Frailey CN, Gravenor SJ, Powell ES, Wang AY, Kricke GS, Ahmad FS, Mutharasan RK, Soulakis ND

Circ Cardiovasc Qual Outcomes. 2016 Nov;9(6):670-678. doi: 10.1161/CIRCOUTCOMES.116.003041. Epub 2016 Nov 8.


The nature of teamwork in healthcare is complex and interdisciplinary, and provider collaboration based on shared patient encounters is crucial to its success. Characterizing the intensity of working relationships with risk-adjusted patient outcomes supplies insight into provider interactions in a hospital environment.


We extracted 4 years of patient, provider, and activity data for encounters in an inpatient cardiology unit from Northwestern Medicine's Enterprise Data Warehouse. We then created a provider-patient network to identify healthcare providers who jointly participated in patient encounters and calculated satisfaction rates for provider-provider pairs. We demonstrated the application of a novel parameter, the shared positive outcome ratio, a measure that assesses the strength of a patient-sharing relationship between 2 providers based on risk-adjusted encounter outcomes. We compared an observed collaboration network of 334 providers and 3453 relationships to 1000 networks with shared positive outcome ratio scores based on randomized outcomes and found 188 collaborative relationships between pairs of providers that showed significantly higher than expected patient satisfaction ratings. A group of 22 providers performed exceptionally in terms of patient satisfaction. Our results indicate high variability in collaboration scores across the network and highlight our ability to identify relationships with both higher and lower than expected scores across a set of shared patient encounters.


Satisfaction rates seem to vary across different teams of providers. Team collaboration can be quantified using a composite measure of collaboration across provider pairs. Tracking provider pair outcomes over a sufficient set of shared encounters may inform quality improvement strategies such as optimizing team staffing, identifying characteristics and practices of high-performing teams, developing evidence-based team guidelines, and redesigning inpatient care processes.

Diversity in the Pulmonary Embolism Response Team Model: An Organizational Survey of the National PERT Consortium Members.

Barnes GD, Kabrhel C, Courtney DM, Naydenov S, Wood T, Rosovsky R, Rosenfield K, Giri J, National PERT Consortium Research Committee

Chest. 2016 Dec;150(6):1414-1417. doi: 10.1016/j.chest.2016.09.034.

Benzodiazepine-opioid co-prescribing in a national probability sample of ED encounters.

Kim HS, McCarthy DM, Mark Courtney D, Lank PM, Lambert BL

Am J Emerg Med. 2017 Mar;35(3):458-464. doi: 10.1016/j.ajem.2016.11.054. Epub 2016 Dec 2.


Benzodiazepine-opioid combination therapy is potentially harmful due to the risk of synergistic respiratory depression, and the rate of death due to benzodiazepine-opioid overdose is increasing. Little is known about the prevalence and characteristics of benzodiazepine-opioid co-prescribing from the ED setting.


Secondary analysis of data from the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, using sample weights to generate population estimates. The primary objective was to describe the annual prevalence of benzodiazepine-opioid co-prescribing from 2006 to 2012, using 95% confidence intervals (95% CI) to compare adjacent years. The secondary objective was to compare characteristics of ED encounters receiving a benzodiazepine-opioid co-prescription versus those receiving an opioid prescription alone, using a multivariable logistic regression.


The prevalence of benzodiazepine-opioid co-prescribing did not significantly change from 2006 to 2012. During this period, 2.7% (95% CI: 2.5-2.8%) of ED encounters prescribed an opioid were also prescribed a benzodiazepine. Relative to encounters receiving an opioid prescription alone, encounters receiving a co-prescription were more likely to represent a follow-up rather than initial visit (Odds Ratio [OR] 1.52), receive more medications (OR 1.41) and fewer procedures (OR 0.48) while in the ED, and more likely to have a diagnosis related to mental disorder (OR 20.60) or musculoskeletal problem (OR 3.71).


From 2006 to 2012, almost 3% of all ED encounters receiving an opioid prescription also received a benzodiazepine co-prescription. The odds of benzodiazepine-opioid co-prescribing were significantly higher in ED encounters representing a follow-up visit and in diagnoses relating to a mental disorder or musculoskeletal problem.

Emergency Department Visits and Hospitalizations for the Uninsured in Illinois Before and After Affordable Care Act Insurance Expansion.

Sharma AI, Dresden SM, Powell ES, Kang R, Feinglass J

J Community Health. 2017 Jun;42(3):591-597. doi: 10.1007/s10900-016-0293-4.

We describe changes in emergency department (ED) visits and the proportion of patients with hospitalizations through the ED classified as Ambulatory Care Sensitive Hospitalization (ACSH) for the uninsured before (2011-2013) and after (2014-2015) Affordable Care Act (ACA) health insurance expansion in Illinois. Hospital administrative data from 201 non-federal Illinois hospitals for patients age 18-64 were used to analyze ED visits and hospitalizations through the ED. ACSH was defined using Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) Prevention Quality Indicators (PQIs). Logistic regression was used to test the effect of time period on the odds of an ACSH for uninsured Illinois residents, controlling for patient sociodemographic characteristics, weekend visits and state region. Total ED visits increased 5.6% in Illinois after ACA implementation, with virtually no change in hospital admissions. Uninsured ED visits declined from 22.9% of all visits pre-ACA to 12.5% in 2014-2015, reflecting a 43% decline in average monthly ED visits and 54% in ED hospitalizations. The proportion of uninsured ED hospitalizations classified as ACSH increased from 15.4 to 15.5%, a non-significant difference. Older uninsured female, minority and downstate Illinois patients remained significantly more likely to experience ACSH throughout the study period. ED visits for the uninsured declined dramatically after ACA implementation in Illinois but over 12% of ED visits are for the remaining uninsured. The proportion of visits resulting in ACSH remained stable. Providing universal insurance with care coordination focused on improved access to home and ambulatory care could be highly cost effective.

Confounding by Indication in Clinical Research.

Kyriacou DN, Lewis RJ

JAMA. 2016 Nov 1;316(17):1818-1819. doi: 10.1001/jama.2016.16435.

Shared Decision Making in the Emergency Department Among Patients With Limited Health Literacy: Beyond Slower and Louder.

Griffey RT, McNaughton CD, McCarthy DM, Shelton E, Castaneda-Guarderas A, Young-Brinn A, Fowler D, Grudszen C

Acad Emerg Med. 2016 Dec;23(12):1403-1409. doi: 10.1111/acem.13104. Epub 2016 Nov 25.

Although studies suggest that patients with limited health literacy and/or low numeracy skills may stand to gain the most from shared decision making (SDM), the impact of these conditions on the effective implementation of SDM in the emergency department (ED) is not well understood. In this article from the proceedings of the 2016 Academic Emergency Medicine Consensus Conference on Shared Decision Making in the Emergency Department we discuss knowledge gaps identified and propose consensus-driven research priorities to help guide future work to improve SDM for this patient population in the ED.

The Association Between Use of Brain CT for Atraumatic Headache and 30-Day Emergency Department Revisitation.

Patterson BW, Pang PS, AlKhawam L, Hamedani AG, Mendonca EA, Zhao YQ, Venkatesh AK

AJR Am J Roentgenol. 2016 Dec;207(6):W117-W124. Epub 2016 Aug 30.


The purpose of this article is to describe the association between initial CT for atraumatic headache and repeat emergency department (ED) visitation within 30 days of ED discharge.


A retrospective observational study was performed at an academic urban ED with more than 85,000 annual visits. All adult patients with a chief complaint of headache from January through December 2010 who were discharged after ED evaluation were included in the analysis. Patients were excluded if they were transferred, died in the ED, or had a diagnosis indicating a traumatic mechanism. A propensity score-matched logistic regression model was used to determine whether the use of brain CT was associated with the primary outcome of ED revisitation within 30 days, controlling for potential confounding variables.


Of 80,619 total patient visits to the ED during the study period, 922 ED discharges with a chief complaint of headache were included. A total of 139 (15.1%) patients revisited within 30 days. The return rate was 11.2% among patients who underwent CT at their initial visit and 21.1% among those who did not. In the adjusted analysis, controlling for age, race, sex, insurance status, triage vital signs, laboratory values, and triage pain level, the odds ratio for revisitation given CT performance was 0.49 (95% CI, 0.27-0.86).


After adjustment for clinical factors, we found that patients who underwent a brain CT examination for atraumatic headache at an initial ED visit were less likely to return to the ED within 30 days. Future appropriate use quality metrics regarding ED imaging use may need to incorporate downstream health care use.