Antibiotic and Diagnostic Discordance Between ED Physicians and Hospitalists for Pediatric Respiratory Illness

Eric R. Coon, Christopher G. Maloney, Mark W. Shen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE: Imperfect diagnostic tools make it difficult to know the extent to which a bacterial process is contributing to respiratory illness, complicating the decision to prescribe antibiotics. We sought to quantify diagnostic and antibiotic prescribing disagreements between emergency department (ED) and pediatric hospitalist physicians for children admitted with respiratory illness.

METHODS: Manual chart review was used to identify testing, diagnostic, and antibiotic prescribing decisions for consecutive children admitted for respiratory illness in a winter (starting February 20, 2012) and a summer (starting August 20, 2012) season to a tertiary, freestanding children's hospital. Respiratory illness diagnoses were grouped into 3 categories: bacterial, viral, and asthma.

RESULTS: A total of 181 children admitted for respiratory illness were studied. Diagnostic discordance was significant for all 3 types of respiratory illness but greatest for bacterial (P<.001). Antibiotic prescribing discordance was significant (P<.001), with pediatric hospitalists changing therapy for 93% of patients prescribed antibiotics in the ED, including stopping antibiotics altogether for 62% of patients.

CONCLUSIONS: Significant diagnostic and antibiotic discordance between ED and pediatric hospitalist physicians exists for children admitted to the hospital for respiratory illness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)111-118
Number of pages8
JournalHospital Pediatrics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • antimicrobial resistance
  • community-acquired and nosocomial pneumonia
  • diagnostic decision-making
  • hospitalist
  • pediatrics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Pediatrics


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