Children With Concussion Often Seen in Primary Care First

Researchers find that most cases are first tended to at doctors' offices, not hospital ERs

child\'s head injury

WEDNESDAY, June 1, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- Four out of five children with concussion are diagnosed at a primary care practice rather than the emergency department, according to a study published online May 31 in JAMA Pediatrics.

Kristy Arbogast, Ph.D., co-scientific director of the Center for Injury Research and Prevention at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, and colleagues examined data on 8,083 children under the age of 18. All were examined for concussion in the hospital's network in southeastern Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey between 2010 and 2014.

The researchers found that 81.9 percent of the children underwent their first concussion visit in a primary care physician's office, not an emergency department. In fact, only 11.7 percent had their first concussion-linked medical visit in an emergency department. Age was a significant factor. More than three-quarters of children ages 5 to 17 were first seen in primary care. For those ages age 4 and under, only 52 percent were first seen in an emergency department. Children with Medicaid coverage were more likely to make their first visit to an emergency department versus those with other insurance.

"Efforts to measure the incidence of concussion cannot solely be based on emergency department visits, and primary care clinicians must be trained in concussion diagnosis and management," the authors write.

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