Background: Quality assurance is a new and important area of research in pediatric emergency medicine (PEM). There are few studies that describe which performance indicators best represent the PEM practice. The primary study objective is to construct a set of performance indicators that have been selected by current and former pediatric emergency department (PED) medical directors as most useful in assessing PED performance. The secondary objective is to assess which indicators are currently measured to assess performance in PEDs.
Methods: Current and former directors of accredited Canadian PEM programs were considered as eligible participants. A list of indicators was generated by a survey (item pool generation); this list was refined by clarifying unclear terms or eliminating redundant and unquantifiable performance indicators (item scaling); PED directors were asked to rate each item of this refined list to indicate which indicators were more useful in assessing PED performance (item prioritization). A novel ranking formula was used to prioritize those items considered most useful by a larger proportion of respondents, using the provided rating scores.
Results: Fourteen current and former medical directors were considered eligible participants. Indicators related to patient morbidity and mortality, adverse outcomes, return visits, patient length of stay (LOS), and waiting times were considered to be more useful. Less useful indicators included the number of deaths, daily census, number of incident reports, and individual physicians' admission rates. The most commonly measured PED performance indicators included the rate of patients who left without being seen, patient LOS, and the waiting time until being seen by a physician by triage category.
Conclusions: The top quartile of performance indicators considered most useful by participants included indicators that reflected clinical outcomes, LOS, and waiting times. A dichotomy may exist between those performance indicators that PED directors considered more useful and those indicators that are currently measured.