The top pediatric hospital medicine articles of 2020


The year 2020 was unlike any in recent history, particularly for those working in health care. With the onset of the SARs-CoV-2 pandemic, many physicians were met with increasing clinical demands, and hospitalists served an instrumental role in providing medical care as the world faced an unprecedented need for health care resources.

Dr. Maura A. Steed is instructor of hospital medicine, Northwestern Memorial Hospital and Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago, Northwestern University School of Medicine, Chicago.

Dr. Maura A. Steed

In addition, 2020 was a year in which many of us reflected on inequities both inside and outside of medicine. Many in health care witnessed the disproportionate burden that the SARs-CoV-2 pandemic placed on communities of color and inequities pertaining to vaccine distribution.

Dr. Rachel Danielle Fisher, Hospice and Palliative Medicine, Michigan State University

Dr. Rachel Danielle Fisher

In spite of the challenges of 2020, the field of pediatric hospital medicine (PHM) has continued to grow and evolve, with an incredible amount of new literature published in 2020.

Dr. Nathan M. Money is a pediatric hospitalist at Primary Children's Hospital, University of Utah School of Medicine, Salt Lake City.

Dr. Nathan M. Money

In this article, we identify the top 10 articles published in 2020, 5 of which are summarized below. These articles were presented at the Pediatric Update at SHM Converge 2021.

The top 5 articles

Association between parent comfort with English and adverse events among hospitalized children

Khan A et al. JAMA Pediatrics. December 2020.1

Background: Hospitalized children experience similar rates of medical errors compared to adult patients, but higher rates in areas that could cause harm.1 A major contributor to medical errors is communication failure, which language barriers frequently contribute to. Single-center data suggest that pediatric patients of families with limited comfort with English experience increased adverse events,2 but multicenter data are lacking.

Findings: This prospective cohort study observed adverse event rates among 2,148 patients from seven teaching hospitals from December 2014 to January 2017. Survey data revealed 147 of 1,666 (9%) parents of patient families expressed limited comfort in English, and Spanish was the predominant language in this group (71%). There were 217 adverse events reported, 142 (65%) of which were deemed preventable by study personnel. Nearly twice as many children of parents with limited comfort with English experienced an adverse event when compared to their English-speaking counterparts (26 of 147 [17.7%] vs. 146 of 1,519 [9.6%]; adjusted odds ratio, 2.1; 95% confidence interval, 1.2-3.7). Interpreter use was not measured.

Impact to practice: Children of parents with limited comfort with English are nearly twice as likely to experience adverse events when hospitalized. Hospitals should reflect on current practice and make efforts to improve their ability to identify and communicate with this vulnerable cohort.

Saline-lock versus continuous infusion: Maintaining peripheral intravenous catheter access in children

Yeung F et al. Hospital Pediatrics. December 2020.3

Background: Peripheral intravenous catheter (PIV) insertion is performed on most hospitalized children. Unfortunately, PIVs frequently fail and need to be replaced. There is a widespread perception that infusing a crystalloid solution at a low rate through a PIV, a strategy known as “to keep vein open” (TKO) prolongs the patency of PIVs, however there is a lack of evidence to support this practice.4Findings: In this prospective, time-allocated study, 172 children were allocated to either a TKO strategy or a saline-lock strategy with a primary outcome of duration of PIV patency.3 Secondary outcomes included PIV–related complication rates and patient and caregiver satisfaction. The mean duration of PIV patency was 41.68 hours in the TKO group and 44.05 hours in the saline-lock group, which did not meet the prespecified definition of a clinically significant difference. There was no significant difference in prevalence of PIV-associated complications and patient satisfaction was similar between the two groups.

Impact to practice: Running fluid “to keep vein open” does not increase the duration of PIV patency compared to intermittent saline locks. Given that a TKO strategy limits a patient’s mobility, this low-value practice can be discontinued without increasing the risk of PIV failure.


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