In 2009, the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons published clinical practice guidelines (CPGs) on the treatment of pediatric diaphyseal femur fractures, which recommended a nonaccidental trauma (NAT) evaluation for all patients below 36 months of age. A recent study of these guidelines found <50% clinical compliance with this treatment recommendation. We aimed to identify areas for improvement in compliance with this guideline.
A retrospective review was performed of all patients presenting to a single pediatric tertiary care hospital with a diaphyseal femur fracture from January 2007 to June 2013 who were below 36 months old. Medical records were reviewed for documentation of a NAT evaluation, patient characteristics, presence of other fractures or injuries, and hospital of presentation. Radiographs were reviewed for fracture pattern. Statistical analysis was performed to assess for differences overall and before and after CPG publication.
During the study period, 281 children below 36 months presented with femur fractures; 41% were evaluated for NAT. Overall, the following factors were significantly associated with receipt of a NAT evaluation: younger age (P<0.001), transfer from an outside facility (P=0.027), and identification of another fracture (P=0.004). Before publication of the CPG, nonwhite patients were much more likely to undergo NAT evaluation compared with white patients (43% vs. 19%; P=0.014). After publication of the CPGs, this differential disappeared (43% vs. 47%; P=0.685). Fracture pattern and patient sex did not influence receipt of NAT evaluation.
We found poor utilization of NAT evaluation for patients below 36 months old presenting with femur fracture. Despite CPG publication, only modest improvements in this evaluation occurred over the study period, with less than half of all patients being evaluated. Younger children, patients transferred from other institutions, and patients presenting with concomitant fractures were more likely to undergo NAT evaluation. Compliance with the CPG may be improved by focusing on older children, patients who initially present to tertiary care centers, and those with an isolated femur fracture.
Level III-retrospective comparative study.