An Advanced Nursing Directive for Children With Suspected Appendicitis: Protocol for a Quality Improvement Feasibility Study Academic Article uri icon

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  • Background Pediatric appendicitis accounts for an estimated 7% to 10% of abdominal pain cases in the emergency department (ED). The diagnosis is time-consuming, and the investigative process depends on physician assessment, resulting in delays in diagnosis and therapeutic management. The utility of an advanced nursing directive (AND) to expedite this process is unclear and needs further exploration. Objective This study aims to describe key components of ED flow in patients with suspected appendicitis seen at a pediatric ED and pilot a directive that allows ED nurses to perform an order set that includes blood work, urine tests, analgesics, fluids, and an abdominal-pelvis ultrasound prior to physician assessment. Methods This study involves conducting a retrospective chart review alongside a quality improvement initiative to compare key ED flow metrics before and after AND implementation. Primary outcome measures include median time from ED triage assessment to ultrasound completion, analgesia administration, blood work results, and time to disposition (consult or discharge), alongside other key ED flow metrics for suspected appendicitis. Secondary outcomes will involve patient and caretaker satisfaction surveys. Descriptive statistics will be used to summarize the data. For differences in proportions, a chi-square test will be used. The Student t test will be used for continuous variables. A variable-controlled run chart will be performed to assess impact on ED flow metrics. Patient and family satisfaction surveys are administered immediately after the directive encounter and 7 days afterward. Results There are currently 3900 patients who have been screened, 344 patients who have been enrolled, and 90 patients who have received the medical directive since implementation in June 2020. Interim results on reduction of time to diagnostic and therapeutic ED flow parameters and satisfaction surveys are expected to be published in February 2022. The final study endpoint will be in June 2022. Conclusions This study proposes a novel protocol for improving the diagnosis and treatment of suspected pediatric appendicitis through implementation of an evidence-based AND. This model may provide a standardized, international pathway for management of common pediatric and adult emergencies. International Registered Report Identifier (IRRID) RR1-10.2196/33158


  • Chaudhari, Hanu
  • Schneeweiss, Michelle
  • Rebinsky, Reid
  • Rullo, Enrico
  • Eltorki, Mo

publication date

  • October 20, 2021