Table 1

Characteristics of enrolled patients (n=6376) and system factors related to their paediatric emergency department (ED) visit

VariableTotal number*n (%)
Patient characteristics
Female sex63762906 (45.6)
Age (years), median (IQR)63764.36 (1.6, 9.8)
Visible minority†45781545 (33.7)
English or French is not spoken in the home by either parent6322574 (9.1)
Both parents immigrated in the last 5 years6329380 (6.0)
Medication taken before ED visit63471753 (27.6)
Chronic medical condition‡63471298 (20.5)
Pediatric Canadian Triage Acuity Scale (pedCTAS)6374
 1—Resuscitation35 (0.5)
 2—Emergent857 (13.4)
 3—Urgent2642 (41.4)
 4—Semiurgent2624 (41.2)
 5—Non-urgent216 (3.4)
Chief presenting complaint (top five)6375
 Cough/congestion881 (13.8)
 Fever817 (12.8)
 Upper extremity injury436 (6.8)
 Vomiting and/or nausea408 (6.4)
 Abdominal pain383 (6.0)
Arrived by ambulance6358331 (5.2)
Mental health presentation6374126 (2.0)
Disposition at enrolment ED visit6376
 Admitted421 (6.6)
 Discharged5809 (91.1)
 Left without being seen/against medical advice146 (2.3)
System factors
First service involved6252
 ED-specific services6164 (98.6)
 Direct to a consulting service88 (1.4)
Needed a consultation§6243551 (8.8)
Location in ED¶6376
 Acute care area4094 (64.2)
 Ambulatory zone/minor treatment area2282 (35.8)
Time of presentation6376
 Day (08:00–15:59)2794 (43.8)
 Evening (16:00–23:59)2777 (43.6)
 Night (24:00–07:59)805 (12.6)
Weekday presentation (Monday to Friday)63764480 (70.3)
Time to physician assessment from triage
(hours), mean (SD)
60931.5 (1.5)
Number of staff physicians involved in patient care**6237
 15886 (94.4)
 ≥2351 (5.6)
  • *If total is less than 6376 for all variables up to and including ‘time to physician assessment from triage’, data are missing.

  • †Questions about self-identified race/ethnicity were asked using Canadian census categories and responses were then categorised as visible minority—yes/no. The term visible minority is defined by the Government of Canada census as ‘persons, other than aboriginal peoples, who are non-Caucasian in race or non-white in colour’. This question was added to the study after patient recruitment had begun, and thus is missing for some participants; some participants chose not to answer.

  • ‡Defined as a condition needing ongoing, regular follow-up or regular medication use (eg, asthma, cancer, kidney disease, congenital heart disease, diabetes).

  • §Patients deemed to have needed a consultation include those seen directly by consulting services and those seen by ED services initially and then referred to a consulting service.

  • ¶Participating EDs are divided into two main areas. Patients triaged as requiring resuscitation and emergent care (pedCTAS 1 and 2) and most patients triaged urgent (pedCTAS 3) are seen in acute care areas. Patients with semiurgent and non-urgent complaints (pedCTAS 4 and 5) and minor injuries are typically managed in ambulatory/minor treatment zones.

  • **Includes patients seen directly by ED services or directly by consultant services. It does not include patients who left without being seen (n=139).