Things Pediatric Hospitalists Do for No Reason

Ann-Marie Tantoco, MD, FAAP, FHM

May 21, 2021

Converge 2021 session

High Value Care in Pediatrics – Things We Do for No Reason


Ricardo Quinonez, MD, FAAP, FHM

Session summary

Ricardo Quinonez, associate professor of pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine and chief of pediatric hospital medicine at Texas Children’s Hospital, both in Houston, presented key topics in pediatric hospital medicine with low-value care management practices which are not supported by recent literature. This session was a continuation of the popular lecture series first presented at the Society of Hospital Medicine annual conference and the “Choosing Wisely: Things We Do for No Reason” article series in the Journal of Hospital Medicine.

Dr Ann-Marie Tantoco

Quinonez began by discussing high flow nasal cannula (HFNC) in bronchiolitis. At first, early observational studies showed a decrease in intubation rate for children placed on HFNC, which resulted in its high utilization. Randomized, controlled trials (RCTs) later showed that early initiation of HFNC did not affect rates of transfer to the ICU, duration of oxygen need, or length of stay.

He then discussed the treatment of symptomatic spontaneous pneumothorax in children, which is often managed by hospital admission, needle aspiration and chest tube placement, and serial chest x-rays. Instead, recent literature supports an ambulatory approach by placing a device with an 8 French catheter with one way Heimlich valve. After placement, a chest x-ray is performed and if the pneumothorax is stable, the patient is discharged with plans for serial chest x-rays as an outpatient. The device is removed after re-expansion of the lung.

Quinonez then discussed the frequent pediatric complaint of constipation. He stated that abdominal x-rays for evaluation of “stool burden” are not reliable, and x-rays are recommended against in both U.S. and British guidelines. Furthermore, a high-fiber diet is often recommended as a treatment for constipation. However, after review of recent RCTs and cohort studies, no relationship between a low-fiber diet and constipation was seen. Instead, genetics likely plays a large part in causing constipation.

Lastly, Quinonez discussed electrolyte testing in children with acute gastroenteritis. Electrolyte testing is commonly performed, yet testing patterns vary greatly across children’s hospitals. One quality improvement project found that after decreasing electrolyte testing by more than a third during hospitalizations, no change in readmission rate or renal replacement therapy was reported.

Key takeaways

  • Early use of high flow nasal cannula in bronchiolitis does not affect rates of transfer to the ICU or length of stay.

  • Abdominal x-rays to assess for constipation are not recommended and are not reliable in measuring stool burden.

  • A low-fiber diet does not cause constipation.

  • Quality improvement projects can help physicians “choose wisely” and decrease things we do for no reason.

Tantoco is an academic med-peds hospitalist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. She is an instructor of medicine (hospital medicine) and pediatrics at Northwestern University, Chicago.

This article originally appeared on The Hospitalist , an official publication of the Society of Hospital Medicine.


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